House Cmte Votes to Block FCC Changes; Senators Introduce Congressional Veto

With a 40-25 vote, the House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would keep the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from implementing its recent decision to repeal media ownership rules and grant large corporations greater control of the media.

Specifically, the bill would keep the FCC from spending money to relax ownership limits on television stations – which would allow a single company to own TV stations that reach 45 percent of households in the US. Sponsored by David R. Obey (D-WI), the bill would effectively restore the previous limit of 35 percent, which was set in the 1996 Telecommunications Act, according to Congressional Quarterly Today.

With opposition from the House leadership and the White House, the bill faces considerable obstacles. However, public outcry against the issue has only grown – just 10 percent of those polled said that allowing companies to own more broadcast and newspaper operations in the same city would have a positive effect, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. “We are hopeful that Congress is finally prepared to do what the FCC has refused to do,” Gene Kimmelman, director of the Consumers Union, a leading group advocating against media consolidation, told CBS Market Watch.

Meanwhile, 35 Senators introduced a congressional veto of the new FCC rules – that would change the media ownership cap to allow a single company to own TV stations that reach 45 percent of households in the US; and would rewrite two existing “cross-ownership” rules to lift current restrictions that keep companies from owning a newspaper and a radio or TV station in the same market. The veto will next be considered by the full Senate. In addition, a Senate committee approved a version of the House bill last month.

TAKE ACTION Tell Congress to Overturn FCC’s Rollback on Media Ownership

JOIN Become a member of the Ms. community and support independent press


Congressional Quarterly Today 7/16/03; Bloomberg 7/16/03; CBS Market Watch 7/16/03; Associated Press 7/13/03

Support eh ERA banner