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Senate Approves Measure to Undo FCC Rules

The Senate voted 55 to 40 today to wipe out all of the Federal Communication Commission's controversial new media rules, employing a little used legislative tool for overturning agency regulations.The resolution of disapproval, sponsored by Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), is now put on the House calendar, where a tougher vote is expected. Even if passed by the House, the White House has promised a veto.
By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 16, 2003; 12:25 PM


The Senate voted 55 to 40 today to wipe out all of the Federal Communication Commission's controversial new media rules, employing a little used legislative tool for overturning agency regulations.

The resolution of disapproval, sponsored by Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), is now put on the House calendar, where a tougher vote is expected. Even if passed by the House, the White House has promised a veto.

Dorgan's resolution is the most sweeping of several challenges to the FCC's rules, which make it easier for media corporations to buy more newspapers and television stations but tighten radio ownership rules.

On June 2, the FCC passed new rules that allow a newspaper to buy a television station in the same city or vice versa, combinations known as "cross-ownership." Also, the new rules let a broadcast network, such as ABC and Fox, own a group of stations that reach up to 45 percent of the national audience, up from 35 percent, the current "national cap." They allow one media company to own more than one station in many cities. Finally, the new rules tighten radio ownership rules, essentially capping national radio consolidation. This rule would be overturned by Dorgan's resolution as well, allowing radio conglomerates to grow bigger.

"To get a small tightening for radio you have to pay for that with [a 45 percent cap] and cross-ownership; it's too high of a price," Dorgan said yesterday. "We're telling the FCC to do it over and do it right. Reverting back to June 2 is not catastrophic as far as I'm concerned."

Since the new rules were passed, bipartisan bills have been introduced in both the House and the Senate that would roll back pieces of the regulations. In July, the House passed a spending bill with a rider that would fix the national cap at 35 percent. Earlier this month, the Senate Appropriations Committee attached the same rider to a spending bill; a vote has not been scheduled. Dorgan also said he would attach a rider to the Senate spending bill that would re-instate the ban on cross-ownership arrangements.

Nonetheless, Dorgan said his resolution is necessary try to halt the "galloping concentration" in the media, while acknowledging that the resolution faces "some white water rapids" in the House.

On Sept. 3, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia put the new FCC rules on hold as it considered an appeal. Yesterday the court denied a petition by several media companies to move the review to the D.C. circuit, which has frowned on media ownership rules in the past. While the rules are on hold, the FCC has said it will not take up media applications to the agency, such as license-transfer bids that are the backbone of media mergers.

The new FCC rules were championed by FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell, who argued that consolidation was less a threat now than when the rules were enacted because consumers have many more choices for their news and entertainment.



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2003 The Washington Post Company
what more choices? 16.Sep.2003 11:45

this thing here

first, this FCC reccomendation is going to be passed because junior is in the white house, and says he will veto any attempt to block it. so, with that sad fact in mind...

>The new FCC rules were championed by FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell, who argued that consolidation was less a threat now than when the rules were enacted because consumers have many more choices for their news and entertainment.<

this is at best an immensely disengenuous argument. what more choices michael? the internet? how do you access the internet when you don't have a computer? and what percentage of americans own p.c.'s? i'll bet it's 60% less than the percentage of americans who own t.v.'s. what more choices michael? newspapers? i don't see any new newspapers anywhere. what more choices michael? t.v.? t.v. is shit and always has been. americans could access a thousand cable channels and still not have more choices. radio? radio as of 2003 is even more corporate monoculture than t.v. so what the fuck are you talking about "more choices"?

does disney really need to get bigger? does viacom really need to make more money? does vivendi need to own an even bigger percentage of the market? well, that's what you're saying michael. you're saying that for some unknown reason, a reason you refuse to discuss with americans because of your obvious contempt for having to travel around the country anwering questions and engaging in dialogue, the "old" media of newspapers and magazines and television and radio needs to be swallowed whole by monopoly sized corporations squeezing out any last bit of competition in those areas (the areas where a vast majority of american citizens actually get their information and entertainment), and hope and pray that the internet or some unknown thing out there somehow takes up the slack.

so now, ownership of a computer will be essential. you'll have to own a computer for listening to "local" radio. and "radio" will be the wrong term for it, because it isn't radio, it's vocal sound waves going into a computer microphone and then being streamed to other computers on a network, taking up no bandwidth on the old style radio broadcast network. because, by that time michael, if you turn on the "old style" radio, what i still think of as radio, every channel from 87.7 up 107.9 will be filled with the exact same music and news. open the paper in the morning, the exact same story as the one in the city two states over. turn on the t.v. and it's the exact same crap that i can see everywhere else. all of which will be deliverd by 2 but most likely 3 massive corporations (as opposed to the 6 now), corporations which have got the game down pat, the game where they do what's best for their buddies in washington and their buddies in washington do what's best for them. amazingly, americans will have the same end result of a state run media/media run state like cuba and north korea and china, but for entirely different reasons!

not to mention what this says about notions of competition and capitalism in america. here, a government which is supposedly all about the conservative corporate business culture, guys in suits, and free market capitalist competition based on the idea of competition between separate choices, is legislating for the exact opposite result to happen: consolidation. how does that work michael? or better yet, why? everything you're saying about this idea of yours doesn't add up to any kind of competent, honest argument, nor any kind of a healthy end result. it's entirely bogus.