Broadcast an afterthought in FCC oversight hearing


Julius GenachowskiThe FCC deals with a wide range of communications services, and the Senate Commerce Committee hearing of 5/16/12 touched on a number of them. But broadcast issues were not a primary part of the proceedings.

The closest thing to news to come out of the meeting is Chairman Julius Genachowski’s statement, in answer to a question from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), that the FCC is trying to publish rulemakings on the incentive auction program by this fall 2012.

The time for the meeting was limited, and only two of the five commissioners who made up the entirety of the witness panel were able to orally present opening remarks. Genachowski briefly discussed the upcoming incentive auctions designed to repurpose spectrum in the television space. Robert McDowell called for an update of media ownership rules, particularly in regard to restrictions on print/broadcast cross-ownership.

Later, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) took some shots at News Corporation and asked what it would take to get the FCC to move on a broadcast licensee on lack of character grounds. All five commissioners indicated they were aware of the situation and were monitoring it.

Additionally, Mark Pryor (D-AR) mentioned encouraging parental tools to control the media use of their children; Maria Cantwell (D-WA) pushed back against the FCC’s apparent adoption of the Kevin Martin approach to media ownership rule reaction, and she also urged steps to effectively implement new rules to increase the number of LPFM stations; and Mark Warner (D-VA) reiterated a call for a complete spectrum inventory.

Regarding ownership, and as previously mentioned, McDowell indicated in his opening remarks that he believed relaxation of the rules is in order. In answer to Cantwell, Genachowski said it is still an open proceeding and encouraged Cantwell to continue to participate in the process.