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FCC to Study 'State of Media'

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Media policy is going under the microscope at the Federal Communications Commission, which Wednesday (Oct. 28) named Internet entrepreneur and journalist Steven Waldman to “assess the state of the media.”

As senior advisor to the chairman in the FCC’s office of strategic planning, Waldman will lead an open, fact-finding process to study the impact of technology and a weakened economy on the future of media, and make policy recommendations.

The appointment comes just as the FCC is beginning the process of reviewing the quadrennial media-ownership rules.

“A strong consensus has developed that we’re at a pivotal moment in the history of the media and communications, because of game-changing new technologies as well as the economic downturn,” said Julius Genachowski, FCC chairman. “At such a moment, it is important to ensure that our policies promote a vibrant media landscape that furthers long-standing goals of serving the information needs of communities.”

Waldman is the co-founder, president and editor-in-chief of Beliefnet.com, the largest multifaith Web site for religion and inspiration. He served as CEO until 2007, when News Corp acquired it. He will step down from Beliefnet; and discontinue his blog and the regular column he writes for Wall Street Journal Online.

Prior to Beliefnet, Waldman served as national editor of US News & World Report and was a national correspondent for Newsweek. He is also an author and regular commentator of national TV and radio.

“I’m excited by many of the new media’s innovations and, at the same time, concerned about the challenges facing American journalism, which potentially harm citizens’ ability to get information they need and hold leaders accountable,” Waldman said. “Most solutions will come from the private and nonprofit sectors. But government rules already affect the media landscape in profound ways so it’s imperative that we both vigorously protect the First Amendment and determine which media policies make sense, which don’t.”