Federal Communications Commission

Article excerpt

Commission Chairman Michael Powell has said his agency will establish a task force to examine whether the FCC can promote more "localism" in TV broadcasting.

In announcing the initiative, Mr. Powell noted concerns that arose in the wake of his proposals to loosen media-ownership rules. He said: "We heard the voice of public concern about the media loud and clear. Localism is at the core of these concerns and we are going to tackle it head on."

"Localism," as understood by those favoring tighter media-ownership rules, meant protecting the independence of local stations from the national networks.

Mr. Powell made clear, however, that he wanted the FCC to focus less on who owned TV stations and more on what those TV stations were doing with the airwaves. He said: "It is important to understand that ownership rules have always been, at best, imprecise tools for achieving policy goals like localism. That is why the FCC has historically sought more direct ways of promoting localism in broadcasting. These include things such as public interest obligations, license renewals, and protecting the rights of local stations. …