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Leaders of AFTRA have reiterated their opposition to the FCC’s attempt to ease media ownership rules.

In a unanimous vote at the union’s recent convention, delegates endorsed a resolution urging Congress to “pass legislation that restores meaningful media ownership limits and encourages independent and diverse production so as to protect localism and diversity, as well as innovation in all American media.”

The resolution also said, “Because the airwaves belong the public, we are all stakeholders in this battle.”

The FCC voted June 2 to allow individual companies to own TV stations reaching 45% (instead of the previous 35%) of the nation’s viewers, as well as to allow a single company to own newspapers and broadcast outlets in the same market. But the House of Representatives overwhelmingly turned down some of the new regs last month, and the Senate is expected to pass its own rejection of the regs when lawmakers return in September.

Damage control?

In what was perceived as an attempt at damage control, FCC chief Michael Powell last week announced a series of initiatives aimed at ensuring that radio and TV stations serve the local community where they operate. The agency will form a task force on promoting localism in broadcasting and pledged to speed up licensing of hundreds of low-powered radio stations.

AFTRA said Monday that it remains skeptical of Powell’s moves, with national director of broadcasting Tom Carpenter saying Powell had not attended the overwhelming majority of public hearings where the public spoke out against relaxation of the ownership regulations. He also asserted that licenses for low-powered radio stations would do nothing to protect local programming in many communities.

“Restoring prohibitions against duopolies and national ownership caps would protect local news and information in this case,” he said. “Powell’s plan offers nothing toward addressing that fundamental conflict.”