No quick fix on cap

Powell sees long struggle over new rules

NEW YORK — Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell said Thursday that new U.S. media ownership rules could take up to seven years to be ironed out.

“I think, sadly, it’s going take a good five to seven years to get it untangled and settled again,” Powell said at a telecommunications policy and regulation conference. “I don’t mean any one proceeding. I just mean a re-establishment of both a framework and a national consensus about what it ought to be.”

Last year, the FCC issued a set of revamped and relaxed ownership regs that were challenged in Congress and the courts. The rules hiked the TV station ownership cap, allowed companies to own more TV stations in a single market and lifted a ban that prevented companies from owning a newspaper, TV station and radio station in the same market.

Congress tightened one of those rules, limiting the networks to owning stations that collectively reach 39% of the national audience. Last summer, a federal appeals court put the other rules on hold, saying the agency needed to better justify them.

The FCC has until early January to decide whether to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

Powell himself has taken some heat for botching the process. Despite criticism, he has said he doesn’t plan to step down.

“I think the regret is not that the rules weren’t put in place, but only that I think it’s now created a fairly chaotic and confused media environment at a time that I think is going to be really troubling to the industry and consumers,” Powell said.

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