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Edwards Joins Media-Ownership Debate

5/28/2003 11:35 AM Eastern

Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) became the second Democratic presidential
candidate in two days to urge the Federal Communications Commission to refrain
from relaxing broadcast-ownership rules at its June 2 meeting.

"I am especially troubled that your agency is implementing these proposals
without permitting further public discussion. The FCC does not have a mandate to
make controversial decisions without giving the public a full opportunity to
comment. The fact that two commissioners have requested a delay should signal to
you that the prudent course, at the least, is to postpone the vote and permit
open public discussion," Edwards said in a letter to FCC chairman Michael
Powell.

The FCC is expected to loosen broadcast-ownership rules at the national and
local levels in response to new market realities and court mandates that the
agency has failed to justify its current slate of ownership restrictions.

Edwards said he was especially concerned about a proposal to raise to 45%
from 35% the cap on the number of TV households a TV-station group may reach
nationally.

"I have heard you suggest that with the growth of cable and satellite
television, broadcast diversity is no longer important. That may be true in some
affluent communities, but many Americans do not have cable and satellite
television, especially in rural areas. These Americans depend on broadcast news
and programming, and their programming should offer real choices that are
responsive to their interests," Edwards wrote.

On Tuesday, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean sent Powell a letter that
delivered essentially the same message.

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