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Michael Powell Stepping Down As Chairman Of The FCC

Powell plans to issue a statement but was not expected to hold a formal news conference, an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In a 2003 interview, he pledged to stay on until the end of Bush's first term. However, after Bush's re-election, it was widely assumed he would leave office early in the second term.

Powell led the Republican-dominated FCC to ease decades-old rules governing ownership of newspapers and television and radio stations. The commission approved changes in 2003 that allow individual companies to own TV stations reaching nearly half the nation's viewers and combinations of newspapers and broadcast outlets in the same community.

Major media companies said the changes were needed because the old regulations hindered their ability to grow and compete in a market altered by cable television, satellite broadcasting and the Internet.

But lawmakers from both parties and a broad range of public interest groups criticized the changes, saying the FCC regulations had given large media companies too much control over what people see, hear and read.

Congress and the courts are considering several efforts to modify or repeal the rules.

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