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FCC Head Won't Delay Media Ownership Vote

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell told lawmakers Wednesday there is no reason to delay the agency's upcoming vote on changes to rules governing ownership of newspapers and television and radio stations.

Many lawmakers have bombarded the FCC with letters in recent weeks asking Powell to disclose the FCC's plans for overhauling media ownership restrictions before approving any changes. Others have urged Powell to complete the review on June 2 as planned.

"Further and more specific notice is unwarranted in light of the full record before us, and weighed against the pitfalls of further delay," Powell wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

The FCC is studying whether decades-old ownership restrictions belong in a market altered by satellite broadcasts, cable television and the Internet.

A 1996 law requires the FCC to review ownership rules in light of industry changes every two years.

Powell said the FCC must finish the current review on schedule to have time to begin the next one.

The ownership rules include a ban on mergers between major television networks and a restriction preventing a company from owning a newspaper and a radio or television station in the same city. The rules also prohibit a company from owning TV stations that reach more than 35 percent of U.S. households.

Powell repeatedly has said the rules should be changed. Two other Republicans on the five-member commission also are widely expected to seek looser regulations, an outcome sought by many large media companies who say the rules hurt business.

Critics warn that mergers resulting from looser rules could leave a few huge companies in control of what people watch, hear and read.


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