Dingell Asks Martin to Go Slow on Ownership, Too

House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) joined the growing chorus advising Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin to take it slower on the FCC's media-ownership rules.

“I urge the commission not to rush to judgment in its media-ownership proceeding," Dingell said in a statement Monday. "Issues of this magnitude and importance deserve nothing less than the full and measured consideration of the chairman and commissioners.”

He continued, “The commission’s last attempt to craft ownership rules was largely invalidated by an appellate court, and the commission should avoid that outcome in this instance. It is my sincere hope that the commission will allow reasonable time for evaluation of the public input received on its media-ownership studies and at all of its public hearings before finalizing rules. It is also important that the commission release proposed rules and then allow sufficient time for comment on them before taking final action.”

The FCC tentatively planned its final localism hearing for Oct. 31 and the last of six media-ownership hearings for Nov. 2 if Martin's proposed timetable were followed.

Martin proposed a timetable that would lead to a vote by the end of the year on revised media-ownership rules. The FCC was instructed by a federal court to better justify a 2003 attempt to scrap the broadcast-newspaper cross-ownership rules and loosen the duopoly rules to allow a single owner to own more stations in smaller markets. It is also under a congressionally mandated quadrennial rule review.

Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama also called for Martin to slow down Monday, as well as to open a separate inquiry into minority-ownership issues.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.