Wired News reports that Michael

  • Wired News reports that Michael Powell, Gen. Colin Powell’s son, is the likely new head of the FCC. Powell has said he favors a “hands-off” approach to regulation, and disfavors the FCC getting involved in corporate mergers like AOL/Time-Warner.
    Powell’s approach will likely be a turnaround from that of current chair William Kennard, who, while an industry veteran, has been somewhat vocal about curtailing the effects of industry consolidation on diversity on the airwaves. Most prominently Kennard championed the establishment of the low-power FM service that was recently assaulted by Congress. In his statement on the creation of the LPFM service, Powell concurred with the notion of creating more broadcast opportunities and with “the extent improvements have been made to address some of the unresolved technical issues.” Interestingly he dissented over concerns over the effect of lpfm on “small broadcast stations.” But, four years after the Telecomm Act of 1996, I have to ask where these “small stations” are. Most independently owned small stations have now been bought up by larger groups, generally having their staffs combined with other local stations owned by the same group. It would appear, then, that any remaining independent small stations are most threatened by these groups of commonly owned stations, which due to lower overhead can underprice their advertising rates, not low-power FM. Incidentally, low-power stations would be unable to compete directly with small commercial stations, anyway, since they are strictly non-commercial.

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