Powell OKs Media-Ownership Hearing

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Washington— 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 next February in Richmond, Va., about 120 miles from the FCC's Washington, D.C., headquarters.

"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 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 statement.

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