Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, the two Democratic commissioners on the FCC board, issued a release yesterday saying that Chairman Kevin Martin’s scheduling of a vote on Dec. 18 to relax media cross-ownership rules is “a huge mistake.” The three Republican commissioners, including Martin, are believed to be ready to vote for the plan.
Copps and Adelstein reiterated the complaint that Martin is ramming his agenda through with inadequate public notice, a charge that has inspired a Congressional investigation of the way Martin has been running the FCC (see story). They appealed to Congress and the public to rein in a Commission chairman painted as out of control.
The Copps/Adelstein statement is uncommonly blunt:
“The FCC should have heeded the calls of Congress and the American people to conduct a credible process on an issue of this importance to our very democracy. That means providing a meaningful opportunity for public input, rather than the callous disregard exhibited thus far – most recently, the Chairman circulated a draft decision on his proposal two weeks before public comment was even due! And it means taking meaningful action on minority and female ownership and broadcast localism, rather than the mish-mash of half-baked ideas currently before us.
“We have been engaged in internal discussions to try to get our processes back on track. We wish those discussions had led to better results. At this point, given the lateness of the hour, we hope that either we can turn this around internally, or that Congress can save the FCC from itself.”