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D.C. Not Quite Done with Media-Ownership Hearings

It turns out that the Federal Communications Commission's sixth and last localism hearing wasn't the last one after all.

While the commission may have wrapped up its localism hearings, as promised, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a media-ownership hearing, with localism getting top billing in the title.

The hearing, scheduled for Nov. 8 at 10 a.m., was prompted by word that FCC chairman Kevin Martin was hoping to vote revisions to the commission's media-ownership rules by the end of the year.

After Sens. and committee members Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) complained that Martin was rushing the decision, committee chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) said he would hold a hearing.

The senators would be hard-pressed to convince the FCC's chairman that it is a rush job: He has pointed out before that the commission has held a series of hearings over several years and sought public input on localism issues, but he also said it is time to move forward.

Whenever the FCC comes out with new rules, they will almost certainly be taken to court, as they were back in 2003, either by media activists if they are too deregulatory or possibly even by broadcasters if they are not regulatory enough.