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Waters: Commissioner-Lite Chicago Forum 'Unacceptable'

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who has been pushing the FCC to take its review of the Comcast/NBCU merger on the road, is not happy with the commissioner turnout for its July 13 Chicago field forum on the deal.

"While the Commission, to this point, seems to have signaled its commitment to a thorough review, I find it unacceptable that now only ONE Commissioner will be attending the scheduled public forum in Chicago," she wrote in an e-mail to the magazine.

The Chicago event is not an official hearing, and for their part, the Republican commissioners viewed it as a staff-level forum, according to their aides. Democratic commissioner Michael Copps will be there, but the chairman will not, though he will be sending a video to open the session. Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn had indicated her desire to be there, but has a scheduling conflict, according to her office.

Waters also renewed her call for actual field hearings with commissioners.

"I am very disappointed that the FCC has failed to set a date for a formal public hearing where all five Commissioners can be in attendance to hear the public concerns about the Comcast-NBC merger," she said. "Comcast and NBC's collective record on diversity, anti-competitive conduct, and consumer relations is insufficient. Therefore, the Commission cannot abdicate its responsibility when the stakes are so high."

Waters participated in both the House Judiciary Committee Comcast/NBCU hearing June 7 in L.A. and the House Communications Subcommittee hearing last week, also in Chicago. She said last week that she is not opposed to the merger, but sees it as "a critical opportunity for both companies to implement a plan of action to address their shortcomings with respect to minority inclusion within their programming, management, ownership, and advertising activities."