Consumer orgs jump on Powell

Group asks FCC head to refrain from voting

WASHINGTON — Opponents of relaxing media ownership regs in Washington got a little creative in their attacks on FCC topper Michael Powell Wednesday.

Jeff Chester, who heads the Center for Digital Democracy, has been railing against the path to deregulation he believes Powell has been taking for months now.

In a six-page letter he sent Wednesday to the FCC, Chester asked Powell to refrain from voting on the matter. In the missive, he indicted the Republican chairman and his staff for being too “ideologically driven” to conduct a fair rewrite of the rules governing media company mergers.

“Given your bias that has been apparent through the proceeding, we urge you to recuse yourself from voting in this proceeding,” he wrote.

FCC spokesman David Fiske had no comment on the letter.

Prominent Washington watchdog group Common Cause joined the chorus of consumer groups pushing the FCC to delay the media ownership vote, skedded for June 2, in order to give the agency more time to educate the public about it.

‘Sweeping reforms’ hit

“The sweeping reforms under consideration by the FCC would affect what every American watches on television and will shape the future of communications for generations to come,” Common Cause prexy Chellie Pingree wrote to Powell.

Celia Wexler, the group’s director of research, upped the ante, calling on the agency not to loosen the current rules at all.

“We need to make it very clear that these ownership rules should be retained,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you have 68 different ways to get news (if it’s) from the same owner, and that’s the problem.”

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