C-SPAN Talks to Former FCC Commissioners

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Washington - Oct 11, 2010 - On the C-SPAN program "The Communicators," former FCC chairmen Reed Hundt, Michael Powell and Kevin Martin discussed FCC policy issues. The conversation began with the chairmen's thoughts on the legislative process used by the FCC. The three agreed that the technological oversight of the Commission constantly struggles with the time-consuming legislative process and the rapidly changing technology landscape. Other discussions covered Net neutrality, indecency and broadcast ownership rules.

When the cross-ownership issue was raised, Reed Hundt asked why no Commission has ever been able to fully eliminate the restriction, which all three agreed made no sense. Michael Powell called the current ownership rules incoherent. Kevin Martin noted that the restriction was mostly lifted under his chairmanship and the current FCC is dealing with those rules now. When Hundt asked why none of them completely rewrote the rules on ownership, Powell replied, "It's a simple reason. It's politics."

Powell expanded on this by noting that politicians rely on media, and therefore want to keep tight controls on the ownership of broadcast stations. He also noted that the ownership rules place broadcast in a bubble that ignores any other form of media -- cable, satellite, the Internet -- even exist.

One humorous highlight was to hear Michael Powell's account of the Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident, which occurred while he was the chairman of the Commission.

Watch the interview online.

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