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Daily Democracy

Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. Daily Democracy is part of the Democracy Papers, a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech and the press.

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October 25, 2007 4:45 PM

Halloween Hearing

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The announcement yesterday evening that the Federal Communications Commission will hold its sixth localism hearing Wednesday is disappointing. Not only because the public was given barely a weeks notice, but also because the hearing will take place after a regularly schedule commission meeting.

The localism hearings give commissioners a chance to hear how broadcasters are serving their communities. I wrote a column from one these hearings in Portland, Maine. What was clear from the extensive public testimony was that the FCC needs to do more to increase the diversity of ownership of radio and television stations, and enforce and create rules that lessen media concentration.

The FCC does the people it is supposed to serve a disservice by giving such little notice, and attaching the hearing to an already scheduled meeting. These hearings are important and demand time and space to be effective.

The Halloween hearing raises questions about a FCC media ownership hearing in Seattle that might happen Nov. 2. The Seattle and Washington, D.C. hearings were announced by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin during a Senate hearing last week. A Seattle media ownership hearing is welcomed, but nothing is official. I am afraid that Martin will firm up the Nov. 2 date next week in an effort to degrade the hearing.

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