News

Martin, Abernathy Reject June 2 Delay

5/13/2003 9:40 PM Eastern

Two Federal Communications Commission Republicans Tuesday rejected a request
made by two FCC Democrats to postpone for a month the scheduled June 2 vote on
overhauling broadcast-ownership rules.

FCC Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, concerned that the agency
is moving too far and too fast in a deregulatory direction, asked for additional
time from FCC chairman Michael Powell, who has been public with his view that
delaying the vote helps no one.

Although Powell has yet to respond to his Democratic colleagues, Republican
FCC members Kevin Martin and Kathleen Abernathy registered their opposition
almost instantly in separate statements released Tuesday afternoon.

"It is past time for the commission to act. I think the commission should go
forward with the scheduled vote on June 2," Martin said.

Abernathy said the agency had a duty to act soon.

"If we don't act, the courts may step in themselves. Although we are
resolving very important and difficult issues, this task will not become any
easier a week from now, a month from now, or even a year from now," she
said.

By tradition, each FCC member may ask for a one-month delay of a scheduled
vote at a public meeting, but the chairman has the authority to reject such
requests.

The FCC is expected to vote on six rules, including one that caps a
TV-station group's reach at 35 percent of TV households nationally. FCC staff is
recommending raising the cap to 45 percent over the opposition of the National
Association of Broadcasters, network affiliate members of which fear domination
by CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox.

On Capitol Hill, Sens. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.)
introduced legislation that would bar the FCC from raising the 35 percent cap.
Companion House legislation was introduced May 9 by Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.)
and Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

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