Commissioners sound off


FCC Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein are treating the upcoming court-ordered review of media ownership rules with extreme skepticism. Republican Deborah Taylor Tate, on the other hand, seems ready to bring the matter to a conclusion. Robert McDowell (R) is as noncommittal on the topic as he was when he first met with the press just after moving into the 8th Floor. Finally, Kevin Martin (R) had proposals to mitigate problems of competition, localism and diversity, including reinstatement of the minority tax certificate program, leasing of digital side channels and getting more LPFMs up and running. Here are highlights of their testimony, with full offerings under the click.

 * Michael Copps: We will soon know, it appears, whether the Commission’s rhetoric about localism is the real thing or whether this proceeding is being truncated because the Commission needs to place a check mark in the Localism box that stands in the way of loosening such ownership rules as newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership that powerful industry players are pushing like mad.

 * Jonathan Adelstein (D): The lack of adequate advance public notice of today’s hearing raises real concerns about how serious we are about getting public input. Despite unanimous approval weeks ago to hold this hearing today, it was not announced to the public until the latest possible moment allowed by law – late, under the dark of night, just five business days ago. This is not the way a government agency should conduct the people’s business.

 * Deborah Taylor Tate (R): I am glad we have taken such a thorough, lengthy and measured approach to this process. Now, it is time for us to get down to work and I look forward to joining my colleagues in crafting rules that recognize the global nature of the world in which we live today, while meeting our commitment to localism.

 * Robert McDowell (R): I was an intern at WMAL and WTOP, and the moral of that story is be nice to your interns because some day they may grow up to regulate you.

 * Kevin Martin (R): If broadcasters mean it when they tell us how much local programming and news they are airing, then they shouldn’t object to telling the Commission in detail what they are doing. Specifically, I proposed that broadcasters complete every quarter an enhanced, standardized form on which they describe the local civic affairs programming, local electoral affairs programming, public service announcements (whether sponsored or aired for free) and independently produced programming that the station airs to meet the needs and interests of its local audience.
The Commissioner’s full statements can be found at