WASHINGTON — Media execs will have to wait longer to find out if those pesky media ownership rules will be clarified as the Federal Communications Commission postponed a discussion of the crucial regs scheduled for their highly anticipated Thursday meeting.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting about why the discussion was dropped from the agenda, commission topper Kevin J. Martin said, “I think that we were still debating some of the issues back and forth about how much time for (public) comment, what we should do about making sure there is adequate public input. So we’re still debating some of the issues.”
Commissioners were supposed to begin a potentially long process of reviewing the agency’s 2003 attempt to relax ownership rules. A federal court blocked implementation of the new regs, ordering the FCC to further justify its reasons for allowing large media companies to increase their number of outlets in any one market. Court also ordered the agency to lend greater weight to the consumer impact of deregulation when it deliberates the ownership rules.
No date set
Asked when the FCC will be ready to take up the rules, Martin replied, “We’re trying to move aggressively on trying to start up a new proceeding and we’ll continue working on the issues. But no, there hasn’t been another date” set.
Public interest groups were quick to declare their intentions. A coalition including Consumers Union, Media Access Project, Free Press and others said in a statement, “The court faulted the FCC for ignoring the public last time. This time, the public not only must have an opportunity to comment on the proposed rules, they must be able to react to a specific proposal that tells them in what ways the FCC intends to change the rules.”