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Leadership Conference Urges FCC Not to Rush to Media Ownership Order

The FCC is getting some pushback from the Leadership
Conference on Civil and Human Rights after reports in B&C/Multichannel News
that FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is trying to vote on a media ownership
order before the end of the year. The FCC is reviewing its media ownership
rules per a congressionally mandated quadrennial review and a remand from the
Third Circuit Court of appeals.

a letter Friday
to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, the group
"urged" the commission to reconsider the decision to "permit
additional consolidation of the broadcast media without the court-ordered data
analyzing [of] the impact of media consolidation on communities of color and

"As we have previously stated to the Commission, any
change in media ownership rules should take place only after the Commission
collects, releases, and subjects to public comment complete data and analysis
of broadcast ownership data," said the group. "It is a grave
disservice to the constituencies represented by The Leadership Conference to
attempt to push through a change in media ownership rules at the last minute
without an opportunity for our members to sift through the data and engage in
substantive debate about its import.

"A decision to alter any of the Commission's media
ownership rules without this data will violate the mandate of the U.S. Court of
Appeals of the Third Circuit because it is impossible to understand any change
on ownership by women and people of color in its absence," the group said.

of the Leadership Conference
include the NAACP, Urban League and Communications
Workers of America.

The Third Circuit told the FCC to better justify its
diversity initiative undertaken under then-FCC chairman Kevin Martin as part of
a 2007 vote to both loosen the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules and
adopt those diversity initiatives. Sources tell B&C/Multi that the
plan is to vote to loosen the cross-ownership rules -- perhaps even lifting the
ban altogether on radio-newspaper cross-ownership, with some diversity element
to that decision -- and to deal with the diversity initiatives in a separate

The FCC is poised to release its latest industry survey on
ownership diversity -- the so-called 323 report -- which it is using to inform
its decision on ownership rules.