May 292010
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A big issue – and not just in the United States . . .

The Federal Communications Commission said on Tuesday that it would begin soliciting public comments as part of a review and possible revision of its media ownership rules, which set limits on the ownership of multiple television and radio stations and newspapers in a single commercial market.

The commission said its review, which by law takes place every four years, would focus on whether the current rules promoted the agency’s goals of competition, localism and diversity.

The ownership rules have been the subject of fierce debate in each of the two previous reviews under the Bush administration. They drew the ire of cable television companies, public interest groups and some members of Congress, including then-Senator Barack Obama.

Julius Genachowski, who was appointed chairman of the F.C.C. by President Obama, said the agency was seeking feedback that would “help ensure that our media ownership rules continue to protect consumer interests in today’s marketplace.”

Even as the commission undertakes its latest survey, it is still awaiting a federal appeals court ruling on the steps it took after the last review. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is considering an appeal of the F.C.C.’s decision in 2007 to relax its ban on cross ownership of a daily newspaper and a television station in the same market.

Also in 2007, the F.C.C. tightened the reins on the cable television industry, stipulating that no single company could control more than 30 percent of the market. That rule was struck down by a federal appeals court last August.

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