When heavyweights like Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Rahm Emanuel and others in the Illinois Congressional delegation write to the FCC Chairman about the Tribune Company’s request for media ownership waivers, it’s not so subtle message is: help this giant constituent out, asap!” The May 18th letter, urged Chairman Martin and the other Commissions to act “expeditiously and to avoid administrative delay.” “We believe that prompt consideration of the merits of the Tribune Company applications is in the public interest and would be very grateful if you would give this matter your personal attention and act upon these applications in a timely fashion.” They were joined by former Speaker Rep. Denny Hastert (a total of 14 out of 19 members of the state’s delegation signed the letter). Broadcasting & Cable magazine explained [reg. may be required] that “Tribune has to file for transfer of control applications for its TV stations as it moves to take the company private. Some of those stations have been operating under a waiver of the FCC’s newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule.”
While the letter says the lawmakers don’t take a position on the merger-related request, it serves as placing pressure on the FCC to help out Tribune. Such a request, of course, should receive a complete and in-depth review by the agency, and not be rushed through. But the Durbin/Emanuel/Hastert letter suggests that many from both political parties–as usual–are inclined to help out powerful media companies. The letter from Durbin and the Dems should have said: FCC, we’re worried about media consolidation and you better take your time and do this right!