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Republican Senators Write Martin on FCC Localism Proposals

A group of 23 Republican senators took issue with several specific Federal Communications Commission proposals on broadcast localism.

In a letter to FCC chairman Kevin Martin, they said they were most concerned with the creation of advisory boards and new license-renewal requirements, which would attempt to apply "bygone regulations" to a new and evolving industry.

The senators -- including Pat Roberts (Kan.), Sam Brownback (Kan.), Pete Domenici (N.M.) and Larry Craig (Idaho) -- also said requiring stations to be staffed 24/7 or to locate their studios in their cities of license, as the FCC proposed, would "undercut the very efficiencies that allow many broadcasters to operate in today's market."

They also argued that some of the proposals raise concerns about "the specter of government-regulated content." They did not specify which, but others have complained that the proposals to create new categories of programming on forms broadcasters must fill out raises First Amendment concerns about government dictating programming.

The senators said broadcasters are already compelled by financial imperatives to program to their communities, and if they don't, "listeners and viewers may turn to another source."