Powell, Copps Clash on Media Hearings

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Democratic Federal Communications Commission member Michael Copps Wednesday
announced two public hearings in March on media-ownership rules, but Republican
FCC chairman Michael Powell made it clear that he is not planning to attend.

Powell, in a statement Wednesday, said the FCC has amassed a solid public
record on the issues that will be augmented by an FCC-sponsored public forum in
Richmond, Va., Feb. 27.

"This record clearly demonstrates that in the digital age, you don't need a
19th-century whistle-stop tour to hear from America," Powell
said.

The FCC is considering relaxing or eliminating various media-ownership rules
by late spring. Copps, who is concerned that the agency might go too far in the
direction of deregulation, wants greater public participation in the debate and
says the FCC has an obligation 'to reach out.'

Copps said he plans to hold the first session at the University of Washington
in Seattle and the second later in March at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

He added that he is also troubled that some "media professionals" fear that
they might lose their jobs if they speak out about media consolidation.

"If that is true, then we need to find a way for them to be heard without
fear of retribution," Copps said.

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