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US FCC to hit road to hear about local radio, TV

September 30, 2003

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell said on Wednesday that the agency will soon hit the road to take the nation's pulse on how radio and television stations are doing on presenting local issues to the public.

Powell, who has been criticized over recently relaxing ownership limits for television and radio stations, had promised the agency would review concerns expressed during the ownership debate that localism in the media was shrinking.

"It is meant to listen to those concerns and those positive stories and be able to have that be a portion of the record as the
Powell said a plane ticket would be necessary for him and other commissioners to attend some of the upcoming hearings.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said in July he wanted to hold public meetings on the license renewals.

"Such hearings would provide the American people with the opportunity to tell us how well they think license holders are doing in meeting their public interest responsibilities to serve their local communities and whether they think these licenses should be renewed," Copps said in a statement.

The new rules sparked outcries from consumer groups, political organizations and lawmakers who argued that further consolidation in the industry would make it more difficult for varying viewpoints to be heard and reduce local reporting.

A federal appeals court has put the new regulations on hold pending judicial review. Efforts are under way in Congress to roll back the rules but at this stage, the only one under imminent threat is the national television cap.