Powell Agrees to One Public Hearing

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Democratic Federal Communications Commission member Michael Copps scored a
minor bureaucratic victory Wednesday when FCC chairman Michael Powell agreed to
hold one public hearing next year on proposals to do away with media-ownership
rules.

Copps -- who is fiercely opposed to media consolidation abetted by changes in
federal rules -- threatened to hold his own public hearings with or without the
presence of other FCC officials.

Powell, who was not eager to hold hearings, released a statement saying he
would agree to one hearing sometime in February in Richmond, Va., about 120
miles from FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C.

"I agree that a local public hearing can provide value to our proceedings.
Severe budget constraints and a commitment not to further delay completion of
this critical proceeding are also paramount considerations in conducting such a
hearing and the choice of venue. Conducting a hearing in Richmond appropriately
balances those concerns," Powell said.

Copps, who has been campaigning for hearings for months, said he hoped Powell
would reach out to other communities.

"This is a good step forward. But I remain convinced that we need to have
other hearings in diverse venues to flesh out the record needed for this single
most important decision the [FCC] will make next year," Copps said in a prepared
statement.

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