The Federal Communications Committee restarts the media-ownership ball rolling the week of July 11, when it has scheduled a vote on a "notice of proposed rulemaking" on broadcast ownership rules.


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Federal Communications Committee restarts the media-ownership ball rolling the week of July 11, when it has scheduled a vote on a "notice of proposed rulemaking" on broadcast ownership rules.

Putting the issue to a vote on the agenda won't decide who can own what media property and where, but it is expected to allow the interested parties to suggest what rules should be in place.

On June 2, 2003, the FCC relaxed decades-old rules restricting media ownership, permitting companies to buy more television stations and own a newspaper and a broadcast outlet in the same city.

The Republican-controlled FCC voted 3-2 -- along party lines -- to adopt changes favored by media companies. It was one of outgoing FCC chairman Michael Powell's most ambitious policies.

Media companies argued that existing ownership rules were outmoded on a media landscape that has been altered substantially by cable TV, satellite broadcasts and the Internet.

Critics say the eased restrictions likely would lead to a wave of mergers landing a few giant media companies in control of even more of what the public sees, hears and reads.

The appeals court in Philadelphia sided with the FCC's critics and sent the new rules back to the commission to be redone. The vote starts that process again.

In another notice, the commission also is scheduled to open up for consideration new rules designed to ensure the quality of closed captioning.