The FCC on Friday announced the time and location for the fifth of its planned six multiple ownership hearings. The hearing will be held in Chicago on Thursday, September 20. Exact times, location and topics will be announced later. The public notice does indicate that the meeting will begin in the afternoon and continue through the evening – so the Commissioners look like they are expecting a full day. As we have written before, this would seem to mean that the last hearing will not be held until late in the year (and a final localism hearing is also expected as well), so any decision in multiple ownership proceeding could not take place until the information from the hearings is reviewed and digested – so that puts a decision into 2008, at the earliest. With that being an election year, does anyone really expect a potentially controversial decision to come out in the midst of a likely contentious political season?
In 2000, after the last transfer of the Presidency from one political party to another, a multiple ownership ruling was released by the lame duck Democratically-controlled FCC in January, just before the new administration was inaugurated. Could we be looking at a rerun in late 2008 or early 2009?