WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The FCC announced a field hearing on media ownership rules in Seattle.

The FCC has asked the public to offer comments on how the agency can develop rules that provide citizens with viewpoints from a diversity of sources and enhance the marketplace of ideas.

At issue is the FCC's review of rules that seek to protect localism, competition and diversity in the media. These rules, among other things, currently limit a single corporation from dominating local TV markets; from merging a community's TV stations, radio stations, and newspaper; from merging two of the major TV networks; and from controlling more than 35 percent of all TV households in the nation.

The hearing will be organized into three panels: (1) the impact of media consolidation on news; (2) the impact of media consolidation on music and entertainment; and (3) the impact of media consolidation on localism.

Panelists will be drawn from the Pacific Northwest to maximize local input on these critical issues -- these panelists will include those from the recording industry, journalists, television and radio broadcasters, labor representatives, and others.

After the panels, there will be an opportunity for any member of the general public to make comments.

"This is the biggest decision the FCC will make this year, and it will affect your television, radio, newspapers, cable TV, and Internet news and entertainment for years to come," said Commissioner Michael Copps. "This is the Pacific Northwest's only opportunity to speak directly to the decision-makers."

"At stake in this proceeding are the rules that ensure the multiplicity of voices and viewpoints that undergird our marketplace of ideas and sustain our democracy," said Commissioner Jonathon Adelstein.

The FCC invited all interested persons attend the hearing on Friday, March 7, 2003, from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM, at The University of Washington Hub (Husky Union Building) Auditorium. Interested members of the public may also participate in this proceeding by filing comments electronically using the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) and ECFS Express.

The Federal Communications Commission