A trio of moderate Republicans, including Communications Subcommittee member Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), is asking Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell not to change any media-ownership rules without first checking with Congress and the public.
Checking with Congress could mean senators asking for a hearing on whatever changes are proposed.
Sens. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), Snowe and Susan Collins (R-Maine) wrote the chairman saying they believe that independent ownership of media outlets "results in more diverse media voices, greater competition among owners and the production of more local content."
Thus, they added, the commission must explain how any changes would "promote diversity, competition and localism." They also said justifying the changes required getting further public comment on whatever the FCC's proposals may be.
All three expressed concerns about media concentration's effects on ad rates, with Allard citing a joint operating agreement between the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post that he said was an example of media consolidation resulting in higher ad rates for small business.
The three have not discussed holding a hearing as the venue for the FCC's report to Congress on proposed changes, but one source expected that to be the "natural progression" of their concerns.
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