Kerry to Martin: Postpone Vote on Media Consolidation
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), pushed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin to delay a controversial vote planned for next Tuesday that would result in further consolidation of the media market. Earlier this month, Kerry and the rest of the Commerce Committee sent Chairman Martin a message with its unanimous approval of a bill that would require Chairman Martin to address the state of minority and women ownership as well as localism before acting on larger media ownership rules. By moving forward with Tuesday's vote, Chairman Martin is acting in direct contrast to the intent of Congress.
"If Chairman Martin plows ahead with this vote, he knows beyond any doubt that he does so over our objections," said Kerry. "I told him today as clearly as I know how that putting corporate consolidation ahead of what's best for local and minority-owned outlets is not consistent with the FCC's mission to protect media diversity. The Chairman's proposal is in direct contradiction to the mission of the agency over which he presides."
The bill Kerry co-sponsored would require the FCC to have a 90-day comment period on any proposed media-ownership rule changes and to conduct a separate proceeding on localism with another 90-day comment period. The bill also requires the FCC to convene an independent panel to make recommendations regarding specific rules to increase women and minority ownership of broadcast media. The FCC would be required to act on the panel's recommendations prior to voting on changes to broadcast ownership regulations. The bill was sponsored by Senator Dorgan, and cosponsored by Senators Lott, Obama, Feinstein, Cantwell and Snowe.