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Too much communication for FCC
FCC can't handle the flood of e-mails and phone calls regarding Monday's media ownership vote.
May 30, 2003: 4:49 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Federal Communications Commission has received so many public comments on its Web sites regarding Monday's vote on media ownership consolidation that the agency is having "problems" with its server, an FCC official said Friday.

And the messages aren't just coming via e-mails. The official said the FCC is experiencing problems with their voice comment phone line, which has also been swamped.

The official said the agency is working to fix the problems.

The FCC is scheduled to vote Monday on proposed changes to its rules on multiple ownership of broadcast outlets. The changes are expected to be approved 3-2, with the backing of FCC Chairman Michael Powell.

Under the proposed rules, media companies could own enough television stations to reach as much as 45 percent of the U.S. television market. The current maximum is 35 percent.

Media companies would be allowed to own both television stations and newspapers in all but the smallest markets. In large markets, individual companies could own several radio and television stations.

Powell has been pushing the proposals, saying the current restrictions are outdated and from the 1960s and 1970s, when three broadcast networks controlled most of what was seen on television.

Opposition to relaxing the rules has brought together strange bedfellows like Common Cause, the National Rifle Association, the liberal National Organization for Women, and the conservative Family Research Council.

Ted Turner, the founder of CNN and the largest individual shareholder of CNN/Money parent AOL Time Warner (AOL: Research, Estimates), is also among those who oppose the changes.

"They will stifle debate, inhibit new ideas and shut out smaller businesses trying to compete. If these rules had been in place in 1970, it would have been virtually impossible for me to start Turner Broadcasting or, 10 years later, to launch CNN," he wrote in Friday's Washington Post.

"Why should the country care?" Turner added. "When you lose small businesses, you lose big ideas. People who own their own businesses are their own bosses. They are independent thinkers. They know they can't compete by imitating the big guys; they have to innovate. So they are less obsessed with earnings than they are with ideas."  Top of page

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