By: Todd Shields
(Mediaweek.com) The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will hold a field hearing on the fate of media ownership regulations, Chairman Michael Powell said late Wednesday.
The hearing is to take place sometime in February in Richmond, Va., with details to be announced later, the agency said.
By setting the hearing, Powell partly fulfilled a persistent request from Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps, who has publicly pushed for hearings and threatened to stage his own if the agency doesn’t.
The FCC says it will decide by late spring whether to retain, loosen, or eliminate a host of major media-ownership restrictions. Rules being reviewed include those that keep major TV networks from buying one another, limit the size of TV networks, and prevent most daily newspapers from buying nearby broadcast stations.
Those who want to weaken or eliminate the rules say the regulations are outmoded because they were put in place before cable, satellite, the Internet, and other developments gave the public more media choices. Those who wish to retain the rules say they are still needed to keep the programming and news that most Americans view and read from falling under the sway of a few media conglomerates.