March 12, 1998
Today the Commission launched one of the keystone proceedings of the Biennial Review, the review of the Commission's broadcast ownership rules. In conducting this review, we will be guided first and foremost by the Biennial Review provisions of the 1996 Act, which require that the Commission review its broadcast ownership rules and repeal or modify any regulation that it determines is no longer in the public interest.
In assessing the public interest, we must stay focused on the two key aspects of the public interest: promoting competition and promoting diversity. Not only are both of these goals rooted in nearly half a century of communications law and policy but these goals remain relevant because broadcasters still serve as the most important source of news and information for Americans.
Both competition and diversity are all the more important today because we recently have experienced the most dramatic increase in consolidation in the broadcast industry in our history. We need to understand how this consolidation has affected our competition and diversity goals. We also need to understand the impact of consolidation on small businesses, including small businesses owned by minorities and women. Broadcast remains the way that most Americans get vital information about their local community. So retaining diversity of ownership of broadcast outlets is, in my view, vital to the democratic process.
The proceeding we launch today will begin a very important dialogue about the competitive structure of the broadcast industry today. I encourage the broadcast industry and the public to participate fully in this dialogue in order to inform our decisions regarding the competitive structure of the industry. I look forward to working with the broadcast industry, the public, and my colleagues as we, together, take a critical look at our ownership rules.
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