- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It was Halloween outside the Federal Communications Commission today as protestors, many clad in costumes, demonstrated outside the agency’s D.C. headquarters to decry media consolidation.

The group, led by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, spoke out against proposals to ease the commission’s limits on ownership of media properties, a move supported by FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin. The commission is holding public hearings on media ownership today.

Standing outside the commission, one protester, Pete Tridish, was dressed in a blue cheerleader uniform with FCC emblazoned on his chest.

We just think everyone should get one [radio station] before some get two, said Mr. Tridish, of the Prometheus Radio Project. The nonprofit group represents small radio stations and was a plaintiff in a lawsuit that challenged the FCC”s media-ownership rules under former Chairman Michael Powell.

The bright outfits of protesters with the antiwar group Code Pink stuck out among the dark suits in the commission’s packed meeting room. About half an hour into the hearing, one woman dressed in a racy French maid outfit was asked to leave the room.

Tell me what I did wrong and why I’m being asked to leave, said the woman, Samantha Miller, creating a stir as Mr. Martin introduced the hearing’s panelists. Ms. Miller’s costume featured fake money stuffed into her dress, and the names of large media corporations were scrawled across her body.

She was allowed to return to her seat after another guard intervened.

The commission is required to conduct public hearings as part of its media-ownership proceedings. So far, the commission has spent more than $150,000 conducting five hearings across the country and $700,000 on related economic studies, Mr. Martin said. About 162,000 people have filed public comments on the issue.

Mr. Martin, one of three Republicans on the commission, supports easing rules on media cross-ownership, citing new technologies and increased competition. The two Democrats on the commission, however, maintain that strong ownership limits are necessary to ensure the existence of small, independent and minority-owned outlets.

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