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Broadcasting & Cable - Obama: FCC Must Slow Down

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Broadcasting & Cable - Obama: FCC Must Slow Down

By John Eggerton

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission must not be allowed to "move forward with regulatory changes through leaks to the press and closed-door meetings."

Obama was responding to the passage in the Senate Commerce Committee of a bill he co-sponsored that would block a Dec. 18 vote on loosening newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules. The bill passed unanimously.

"The rules promoting the public interest and diversity in media ownership are too important to allow the FCC chairman to force through an agenda supported by Washington lobbyists that favors corporate interests over the people's interests," Obama said in a statement. "I commend the Senate Commerce Committee for passing the Dorgan-Lott-Obama Media Ownership Act. The bill requires what I have been urging for more than one year -- that the FCC place its public charge ahead of its concern for corporate profits."

But the presidential candidate, who has increasingly been weighing in on media-ownership issues, wasn't done.

"We must ensure that we have an open media market that represents all of the voices in our diverse nation and allows them to be heard," he said. "One important way to do this is to expand the ownership stake of women-owned, minority-owned and small businesses in our media outlets."

He continued, "The more the rules let media outlets fall into the hands of big media conglomerates, the less likely our leaders are to be responsive to the public's needs and, in particular, the needs of minority communities. The FCC needs to meet its obligations to diverse communities and ensure that broadcasters are doing right by the communities they operate in before it considers loosening any media-ownership regulations."

Obama concluded, "This legislation will ensure that any changes to FCC rules will be done through a fully transparent and inclusive process, fully taking into account the interests of our minority communities. I thank my colleagues for their leadership on this issue."

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