- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The head of the Federal Communications Commission today defended his plan to ease limits on media ownership before Congress as House Democrats attacked his leadership of the agency

FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin has recently come under fire from liberal groups, the cable industry and Democratic lawmakers who accuse the Republican of being secretive in scheduling votes and not allowing enough time for public comment on agency proposals

Mr. Martin and his four co-commissioners were summoned to appear today at an oversight hearing by the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet

Rep. John D. Dingell, Michigan Democrat, said the federal media regulator “appears to be broken.”

“In recent months, we have heard about many FCC agenda meetings postponed all day while closed-door negotiations on important public matters are conducted,” Mr. Dingell said. “We have witnessed too much sniping among the five commissioners, and we have heard too many tales of a short-circuited decision-making process.”

Mr. Dingell and other Democrats on the committee said they were concerned that Mr. Martin is rushing a vote on his proposal to roll back a ban on ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the same market. Mr. Martin has scheduled a vote on his media ownership proposal for Dec. 18.

“Media ownership in general is obviously a very contentious issue,” said Mr. Martin, who said the commission has undertaken a “lengthy, spirited and careful reconsideration of our media ownership rules.”

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