Free Press Says Any More Dereg of Broadcast Stations Is Unjustified

Calls Extra 30-Day Comment Period 'Hardly a Serious Attempt' to Address Diversity Issues
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Free Press turned in its ownership diversity homework by the FCC deadline -- the day after Christmas -- and its conclusion was that a recent ownership report showed abysmally low levels of station ownership by women and minorities.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski provided a 30-day comment period on the so-called 323 report but still wants a vote on his proposal to loosen cross-ownership rules.

Free Press said in its comments Wednesday that the comment period was a start, not the end of the process. "We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the data," said Free Press policy director Matt Wood, "which still shows shockingly low levels of broadcast ownership diversity. But the FCC's truncated comment period -- during the holiday season, no less -- is hardly a serious attempt to address this matter.... Releasing these numbers is the first step the FCC needs to take, but it's not enough. Just having the numbers in hand won't satisfy the mandate of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which rejected the agency's attempts to weaken ownership rules on two prior occasions."

Free Press wants the FCC to study the impact of the chairman's proposal on those "abysmally" low numbers, suggesting that analysis would result in the conclusion they any more deregulation cannot be justified.