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Media Ownership Is on Dec. 18 FCC Agenda

The Federal Communications Commission released its agenda for the Dec. 18 public meeting, and its media-ownership-rule review is on the docket.

That means FCC chairman Kevin Martin is still planning on loosening the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules despite major pushback from Hill Democrats.

The item will also deal with other issues pertaining to the federal court's remand of the attempted 2003 rule deregulation, as well as the biennial, now-quadrennial rule review mandated by Congress.

This means the commission will be explaining why it no longer feels that loosening the TV- and radio-duopoly rules is in the public interest.

Also on the agenda is a rule-review-related package of initiatives to promote ownership by new entrants and small businesses, including women and minorities, and a report on broadcast localism.

The commissioners will also officially approve a 30% cap on cable's household reach and open an inquiry into vertical concentration limits, and they will vote on a proposal -- reportedly more like an inquiry -- into how the FCC can get broadcasters to better identify products that companies pay to work into the plot lines of shows.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m., rather than the usual 9:30 p.m. start time. But given the Democratic commissioners' criticisms of the Martin proposal and the history of meetings running late, that is at best an approximation. Agenda items can also be pulled up to the day of the meeting, so none of that is set in stone, either.

But Martin likely has the votes to pass newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership changes, and he has made it clear that he wants to wrap up the media-ownership review that is years in the making.