FCC Schedules Field Hearing On Future of Media

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The Federal Communications Commission has scheduled an Oct. 3 field hearing in Phoenix on the information needs of communities.

Scheduled to appear at the hearing are FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, commissioner Michael Copps, and Steve Waldman, the principal author of the commission's future of media report.

The agency brought on Beliefnet founder Waldman in October of 2009 to head up a working group reviewing and producing a report on the impact of the technological revolution on those information needs, which it released in June.

The report was mostly a survey of the current state of the information needs of communities and how they were, or were not being met. Those included that the FCC should terminate its localism proceeding, replace enhanced disclosure of TV station's public service programming with a more streamlined, online version, and encouraging the government to move its billion dollars of mostly national advertising buys to local media like TV stations.

More broadly, the report found a generally vibrant media landscape with a troubling gap in providing community news about schools and local government that has yet to be filled by the disruptive explosion of web news content.

The report does not have any enforceable provisions, but is instead meant to inform the FCC's decision-making, including on media ownership and other regulations. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski associated himself with the report and the caution it expressed about the limited role of government in the journalism space. He said he preferred its recommendations to ones that involve a "heavier government hand" in areas of speech and content.

The FCC has said it would use the report to help inform its review of media ownership regs, currently underway per congressional and court directives.

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