Powell: FCC Treads Carefully on Rules

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The Federal Communications Commission is going to move cautiously in its effort to overhaul media ownership rules, FCC chairman Michael Powell said here last Tuesday at a National Show breakfast attended by top MSO and programming executives.

"This is not some rush to deregulate because we just don't like the rules," Powell said in an interview session with C-SPAN's Brian Lamb.

In the wake of court setbacks, the FCC needs to rewrite ownership rules affecting the cable and broadcasting industries. The FCC will move deliberately because the agency wants the courts to support its decisions, Powell said. "We are not going to be rushed on this, we are not going to be pushed on this until we are ready to do it in a way that I think is constructive, in the public interest and is going to survive judicial scrutiny."

For cable, the FCC is reviewing its rule that limited one cable operator to serving no more than 30 percent of all pay-TV subscribers, and its associated attribution rules.

On other topics, Powell declined to respond to former FCC chairman Reed Hundt's repeated taunts. Hundt has called Powell the Herbert Hoover of the telecommunications downturn. "By a show of hands, who knows what that means? Poor Reed has been saying this in article after article. I have yet to figure out what on earth it means to be Herbert Hoover. I don't think it's good, though," Powell said.

On the transition to digital TV, Powell joked that male rivalry would drive the sale of big-screen, high-definition TVs. "Every man in this room knows the TV envy thing, right. Sixty-two inches, huh?" Powell said.

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