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Powell proposes media-merger model

Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell told lawmakers at a
hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday that he has ordered agency economists to
develop an economic model akin to the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index used by
antitrust officials to gauge the impact of mergers.

The new model will be evaluated as a way to weigh the impact of media mergers
on local markets.

Powell also confirmed that concentration in local media markets would become
a major factor in new ownership limits.

The FCC is currently under court orders to rewrite existing numerical limits
on the number of media in any particular service in a market, as well as
national ownership limits.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing focused primarily on the FCC's
controversial phone-regulation decision last week, which angered Capitol Hill
Republicans seeking elimination of unbundling rules for regional Bell
monopolies' voice network.

The ruling, over FCC chairman Michael Powell's dissent, gave state regulators
power to determine unbundling mandates for residential service.