Hollings questions Bush’s handling of media authority

Mar 11, 2002  •  Post A Comment

A powerful Democrat wants the Bush administration to provide Congress with more information on its controversial decision to strip the Federal Trade Commission of its media merger review authority.
At deadline, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., was planning to fire off a letter to FTC Chairman Tim Muris asking him to provide more details on how the administration reached its conclusions.
The senator has emerged as the biggest congressional opponent of the new plan, which consolidates all antitrust reviews of media deals under the Justice Department.
Critics now fear less scrutiny of some transactions because the FTC has considerable expertise reviewing complicated cable- and Internet-related combinations.
Meanwhile, Mr. Muris will have the unenviable task of appearing before Sen. Hollings’ appropriations panel in the coming weeks to request fiscal year 2003 funding for his agency. The FTC chairman is certain to face tough questions during the appearance.
“The FTC has played a unique and important role in media and new media-related mergers, given its orientation as both an antitrust and consumer protection agency,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the watchdog Center for Digital Democracy.