Congress Spending Bill Could Block TV Ownership Law Reform

21 November 2003

US congressmen are risking a confrontation with the White House after agreeing to use a spending bill to prevent the Federal Communications Commission from relaxing TV ownership law.

Negotiators from both chambers -- the House of Representatives and the Senate -- decided this week to include clauses that will ensure the FCC cannot implement its most controversial proposals, notably that which would raise the maximum audience a TV company can reach from 35% of the nation's homes to 45%.

The White House has previously threatened to use the presidential veto against any legislation overturning the FCC scheme -- a risk lawmakers, supported by senior members of both parties, seem willing to take.

Congress hopes to force the measure through by including it in an omnibus spending bill. This approves budgets of over $700 billion (€587bn; £411bn) for ten cabinet-level departments.

The FCC unveiled its proposals over the summer [WAMN: 03-Jun-03], only to meet intense opposition from a broad-based coalition of lobby groups, lawmakers and some media firms. The 45% rule has attracted most of the attention, even though plenty of other regulations are due to be relaxed.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff