The infighting within the FCC Commission is no secret. The five members of the panel have many disagreements, and lately have held back nothing and aired their laundry for all in the public to see. The latest chapter in this very public battle surrounds the upcomming vote on Media Ownership.
Chairman Martin is committed to going forward with a vote on Media Ownership on December 18th, despite objections from Commissioners Copps and Adelstein. Now, Copps and Adelstein have made their disdain for this vote known via a very public press release issued yesterday. The release is vary pointed and does not leave anything to the imagination.
JOINT STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER MICHAEL J. COPPS AND COMMISSIONER JONATHAN S. ADELSTEIN
"We are deeply disappointed that the announced agenda for the December 18 open meeting includes media ownership. This is a huge mistake. The FCC should have heeded the calls of Congress and the American people to conduct a credible process on an issue of this importance to our very democracy. That means providing a meaningful opportunity for public input, rather than the callous disregard exhibited thus far – most recently, the Chairman circulated a draft decision on his proposal two weeks before public comment was even due! And it means taking meaningful action on minority and female ownership and broadcast localism, rather than the mish-mash of half-baked ideas currently before us."
"We have been engaged in internal discussions to try to get our processes back on track. We wish those discussions had led to better results. At this point, given the lateness of the hour, we hope that either we can turn this around internally, or that Congress can save the FCC from itself."
For those interested in the media ownership issue, the news that a vote is forthcoming should be good news. The fact that Chairman Martin is moving forward with the vote is indicative that he likely feels that he already has the votes he needs on the issue. Copps and Adelstein are not at all happy with this, and their latest press release is not likely to build any bonds for future issues. These two commissioners want more time to review the information. The media ownership issue has been discussed for many many months at this point. Public meeting have been held, and comments filed for review. There is no rush to judgement here. While the proposals may not entirely address what Commissioners Copps and Adelstein would like, any complaint that there has not been time to address the issue is pretty much unfounded.
From the outside looking in it appears that these two commissioners are finding themselves on the short end of the vote, and are now making a last ditch effort to bring congressional oversight to bear in hopes of stopping a train that has already left the station.
For SDARS investors, it looks as if the media ownership rules will get relaxed. This will be a feather in the cap of the National Association of Broadcasters, and will likely take some of the pressure off of the SDARS merger that is also being considered by the FCC. However, should congress become more active and try to apply pressure, it could slow up the entire process on not only the media ownership decision, but the satellite radio merger decision as well. If that happens, traditional media and SDARS will be on the common ground of frustration at the slowness of the process.
We are now in the eleventh hour of media ownership as well as the SDARS merger. The sides are scrambling to make their points and counterpoints. The sides are bringing in their reinforcements, and calling their respective "Hail Mary" plays. The coming weeks will be quite interesting to say the least.
Personally, I expected a DOJ decision on the merger last week. I still feel that a decision will come at any time, but also expect the fighting to continue. At some point a decision needs to be announced. Why prolong consumer confusion? Why continue to hold investors in narrow tracks awaiting a decision. Why hold media companies back any longer?
The time has come to do the right thing on these issues, and vote. Take out the politics, and vote on the record that has been established. Consider the present and future marketplace and vote. The FCC does not need congress to save it. The FCC needs to get to the task of doing their job. Debate can last forever, but at this point debate is merely inaction. TAKE ACTION! Vote on media ownership and vote on this merger!
Position - Long Sirius, Long XM