April 12, 2003  ·  Lessig

An interesting mix of Senators has written a strongly worded letter to Chairman Powell about his apparent decision to revise media ownership rules without public hearings. This does seem a curious way to launch profound changes of media policy — in a democracy at least.

  • http://viceclown.org JP Toto

    I have to admit that there are some unexpected signatories here. Lott? Hollings? Maybe it’s just my own bias but I wouldn’t expect to see so many generally conservative (Hollings??) signatures on this letter. Regardless, there most certainly should be hearings on this matter.

  • Dan Grossman

    May I respectfully ask what, if anything, Chairman Powell et al are about to that is procedurally wrong? Was there not an NPRM in September, a comment period and a reply comment period? Were there not ex parte hearings (Richmond and New York, if memory serves)? Is there not a voluminous public record? Does the law require a further NPRM? Is it conceivable that the Chairman and his legal advisors would choose not to hew to the letter of the Administrative Procedures Act?

    Or is the real problem that the Congress punted the media ownership issue onto the Commission? Having given inadequate guidance as to the policy goals they wanted to achieve, they now can carp. But of course, sending a letter chiding the Chairman on procedural matters doesn’t seriously undermine media interests, and buys brownie points with those of us who care about the public interest. And of course the Chairman knows he’s paid to be a scapegoat.

  • Lessig

    Procedure or substance, you pick. What’s clear is that a significant number of Commissioners want a hearing the Chairman wants to avoid. And when he uses his power to achieve his wants, it is proper to criticize that exercise of power for either procedural or substantive reasons.