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Powell wants to up FCC ante $18.5 million

FCC Chairman Michael Powell asked Congress on Tuesday to increase the FCC's budget $18.5 million, or 8%, to $248.5 million for the next fiscal year.

"I am cognizant of the fact that the funds I request here today belong to the taxpayer and not the commission," Powell told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary. "For that reason, we ask only what is necessary to maintain and improve the commission's services and resources."

According to Powell's request, Congress would not need to increase the agency's government appropriation of $29.8 million, but would need to give the commission permission to increase the regulatory fees it collects. About 40% of the additional money would go to cover increases in salaries and benefits for full-time employees, and higher fees for contract workers. Powell also wants to spend $11 million to upgrade the agency's computer systems.

Powell addressed a wide range of issues before the panel. Subcommittee chairman Frank Wolf (R-Va.) pressed Powell on whether he intends to monitor the airwaves for violent and sexual programming. "There is almost nothing that can be watched after 8 o'clock at night," Wolf said. "You can make a justification that there are times when you have to be bold and help out."

"Whatever judgements you make, you do have to navigate the constitution," Powell responded.
- Paige Albiniak