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US: FCC Chairman Refuses to Delay Vote

Associated Press
May 16th, 2003

Michael K. Powell, the Federal Communications Commission chairman, rejected today a request from two commissioners to delay a decision on overhauling rules governing ownership of newspapers and TV and radio stations.

The two commissioners, both Democrats, had asked Mr. Powell on Tuesday to push back a June 2 vote by a month to give them more time to study an agency proposal that recommends easing ownership restrictions.

"There is precedent for granting such a request," Mr. Powell said, "but it is not customary to do so over the strong objections of a majority of commissioners."

Mr. Powell and the two other Republicans on the commission, which has five members, favor loosening regulations, an outcome sought by many large media companies.

Mr. Powell said he also needed to meet a timetable set by Congress.

The proposed plan would allow companies to own more TV stations in local markets, reaching more homes. It would also eliminate many restrictions on one company's owning combinations of newspapers and TV and radio stations in the same city.

Michael J. Copps, one of the Democratic commissioners, said Mr. Powell was rushing to vote on proposals that could change the media landscape in ways not fully understood.

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