FCC won’t hurry on ownership

Apr 15, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Industry deregulation fans better not hold their breath waiting for the Federal Communications Commission to relax or ax its broadcast and cable ownership rules, because the agency isn’t planning to rush its review.
“We have to figure out what are the unifying themes for all of [the agency’s ownership rules], and to do that well is going to take a little time,” said FCC Chairman Michael Powell in an impromptu briefing with reporters last week at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas.
A wide-ranging review of the regulations is in the cards because a federal appeals court has either vacated or remanded to the FCC many of its key ownership rules over the past couple of years, including ones that limit how many cable systems or broadcast TV stations a single company can legally own.
Some industry representatives want the FCC to provide fast deregulatory relief to clear the way for a tidal wave of transactions that could fundamentally reshape the media environment.
But Mr. Powell told reporters last week that it was hasty agency decision-making that led to court reversals on regulations. “We don’t have time to do do-overs every year on these things,” Mr. Powell said. “It’s time to get the right answers.”
In public remarks during an NAB session, Mr. Powell also said the agency may make a decision by the end of the year on whether to relax a rule that bars daily newspaper owners from buying broadcast stations in their markets.