When You’re FCC Chair You Can’t Make Everyone Happy

  • When You’re FCC Chair You Can’t Make Everyone Happy
    Electronic Media has a short article on how FCC Chair Michael Powell is taking things more slowly than originally expected, not pushing deregulation as hard and fast as hoped by the industry and feared by us mere mortals. The article quotes the director of the Center for Digital Democracy who says that Sen. Fritz Hollings, chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, “is keeping Powell honest.” Hollings is critical of deregulation, though isn’t exactly an enemy of the culture industry, either. Apart from Hollings’ counter-pressure, Powell has also annoyed the broadcast industry by not forcing the cable industry to carry their new digital signals. Strangely, at least that decision is consistent with his supposed deregulatory agenda. Of course the communications industry really isn’t anti-regulation — they’re in favor of regulation that furthers their own agenda and against regulation that keeps them in check.

    In a related note, the Center for Digital Democracy is warning that the Bush Administration is secretly working to transfer oversight of anti-trust matters in the media industry from the Federal Trade Commission to the Justice Department. This would essentially kill any real scrutiny of mass media mergers, since Attorney General Ashcroft is about as pro-monopoloy as they come. The plan hit a snag when Sen. Hollings got wind of it and “flagged the pair for ‘illegal procedure’ and quickly brought a halt to the signing ceremony and press conference.” The CDD is asking concerned citizens to contact Sen. Hollings and other members of the Commerce Committee to urge them to stop this plan.

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