Two Senate leaders expressed concern Tuesday about relaxing
mass-media-ownership rules in a manner that reduces editorial voices and erodes
news and public affairs for consumers.
The concerns were spelled out in a letter to Federal Communications
Commission chairman Michael Powell from Sens. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Herb Kohl
(D-Wis.), respectively the chairman and ranking member of the Subcommittee on
Antitrust, Business Rights and Competition.
"We are concerned about any significant relaxation to the current
media-ownership rules that the [FCC] might be considering," the lawmakers
They added that ownership restrictions mean more owners of the media and more
diverse voices, bolstering democracy and protecting First Amendment values.
The FCC is considering relaxing or eliminating several rules, including one
that bans the common ownership of TV stations and newspapers in the same market
and another that bans a TV-station group from reaching more than 35 percent of
Appearing on C-SPAN last Friday, Powell said he expects the agency to issue
its decisions by late spring.