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FCC Democrats: Media Ownership Forum Has 'Mean Spirit'

Washington – The Federal Communications Commission is planning to hold a media ownership public forum in Seattle on Nov. 9, but FCC Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein complained that a week’s notice was insufficient time for local residents to prepare.

“A hearing with only five days notice is no nirvana for Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. This smells like mean spirit,” the Democrats said in a statement that tried to sound hip and serious at the same time as their remarks were a pun on the former Seattle grunge band Nirvana's 1991 hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

The two oppose changing the FCC’s media ownership rules, and they routinely try to frustrate the agency’s review by raising procedural objections to how the review is being conducted.

“Clearly, the rush is on to push media consolidation to a quick and ill-considered vote,” Copps and Adelstein said. “It shows there is a preordained outcome. Pressure from the public and their elected representatives is ignored. With such short notice, many people will be shut out. We received notice of the hearing just moments before it was announced. This is outrageous and not how important media policy should be made.”

At a minimum, Republican FCC chairman Kevin Martin wants to relax a 1975 rule that bans the common ownership of a daily newspaper and a radio or TV station in the same local market, a deregulatory move largely endorsed by a federal court that in 2004 otherwise blocked the agency’s across-the-board deregulatory effort.

A Martin aide said the chairman has been trying to reach agreement only on a schedule to bring media ownership issues to a vote and has not circulated any proposed to changes to Copps, Adelstein or the agency’s two other Republican FCC members.