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FCC Gets Earful in L.A.

Hollywood unions hammered the issue of independent programming to lead off the FCC's first ownership hearing in L.A. Tuesday, saying that the independent programmer was either a dying breed or a fossil and that never has there been so much outside control of their creative process.

Then came a parade of voices attacking the media, including the military-programming complex–GE heard it for being a defense contractor–as well as invoking Bill Marr and his CBS "Free Speech " tiff, taking aim at the FCC's "suppressed studies," and even advising the commission not to ignore warning signs, somehow tying that to the killings in Amish country and 9/11.

"Are you Michael Brown," one angry man asked Martin, referring to the former FEMA director.

It was, essentially, a complaint vomitorium, mixing legitimate, sentient criticisms with wild, sometimes nonsequitorial accusations, all pouring forth unabated save for Henry Rivera, former FCC commissioner, whose job it was to cut them off after their alotted time. The unifying element was anger and an opportunity to claim the microphone to put their two minutes in.

The commissioners sat quietly during the barrage, having made their opening statements, which ranged from a longish speech from Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein to Commissioner Deborah Tate's decision to make her long statement online and let the proceedings get rolling, which they did for almost three and a half hours before the commissioners had to exit their L.A. venue to move to part-two of the hearing at a venue nearer the airport.

By John Eggerton