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House Dems Seek Delay of Broadcast Ownership Vote

Some House Democrats led by Rep. Jerry McNerney (Calif.) want FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to delay a vote on his broadcast ownership deregulation proposal planned for the FCC's Nov. 16 public meeting.

In a letter to Pai, McNerney and company pointed to the vote's potential for helping Sinclair buy Tribune without having to divest stations.

They want Pai to seek more comment on the proposed changes, which are coming in response to petitions to reconsider the FCC's decision, under former chairman Tom Wheeler, not to loosen or excise any of the relevant regs, which include the newspaper-broadcast crossownership rule, the TV-radio crossownership rule, the duopoly restrictions.

They call the proposal "sweeping deregulation" done "at the behest of Sinclair, among others."

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Pai has long signaled his desire to prune broadcast regulations he sees as tied to a past where broadcasters weren't competing with cable and satellite and telcos and the internet.

They said that given that the draft of the ownership dereg proposal was only released Oct. 27, the public has had almost no time to comment. "Using such tactics is contrary to prior reviews by the commission," they said.

Others signing on to the letter include Mike Doyle (Pa.), ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee; Debbie Dingell (Mich.); Bobby Rush (Ill.); and Tony Cardenas (Calif.).

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.