[JURIST] The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] on Wednesday approved a review of media ownership rules [FCC news release, PDF; fact sheet, PDF], including limits on ownership of broadcast stations by one company and on cross-ownership by broadcasters and newspapers. FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin [official profile] said [statement, PDF] that the rules, which must be reviewed every four years, will be subject to more public hearings and research studies than in previous reviews and will be available for public comment for a longer time. But the minority FCC Democrats, Michael J. Copps and Jonathan S. Adelstein [statements], criticized the review even while voting for it, saying it does not allow for enough public comment and should be more transparent.
Copps noted the importance of public comment, saying:
[W]e need to include the people in our process instead of trying to exclude them. We need to hear from anybody who has a stake in how this is resolved. And everyone has an interest and a stake. ... Good hearings must include all sides of the debate and be held in diverse communities around the country. ... And citizens have a right to expect direct access to decision-makers at the FCC. When a regulatory agency is charged by the law with important public policy matters, it has the obligation to reach out, explain and solicit citizen input. A handful of generalized FCC hearings are not themselves enough. I hope citizens in hundreds of communities across this country will gather to discuss the future of the media. These issues deserve to be discussed in every community because they are going to affect every community.Two years ago, the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals overturned [opinion, PDF] some of the rules because the commission used an improper procedure to change them, and the US Supreme Court let the decision stand without comment [JURIST report]. The commissioners have struggled to agree on an appropriate review process and last summer dropped a scheduled review [JURIST report] from the agenda of a monthly meeting. AP has more.