US regulators mull new media ownership law

For the second time in four years, the US government is rewriting media ownership rules, a process that probably will allow big companies to get even bigger, an Associated Press report said.

While the stakes this time are smaller, the furor surrounding the process has, if anything, grown, the report said.

The report said democratic members of the Federal Communications Commission have accused the chairman, Republican Kevin Martin, of calling public hearings without adequate notice and rushing the review process.

Martin wants a vote by year's end, the report said.

The Associated Press report added that well-organized opponents have staged protests, attacked the FCC's economic studies as biased in favor of liberalizing the rules and complained that the agency is not doing enough to promote minority ownership.

Congress is getting involved, too. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee plans to hear testimony on the issues. A House panel has scheduled a hearing for December 6, the report said.

The FCC's final public hearing on media ownership is set for Friday in Seattle.

Thanks to Congress, the debate this time does not include the issue that galvanized opposition to media consolidation in 2003: a national audience cap on television broadcasters, the report further said.

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