Murdoch Barnstorms Capitol Hill to Kill Media Ownership Cap

22 July 2003

News Corporation is in lobbying turbodrive on Capitol Hill, attempting to persuade US lawmakers that reversing the Federal Communications Commission’s new tycoon-friendly ownership regulations would be a crime against Big Media that could force the giants to sell some of their US TV assets.

Congress is currently on course to overturn several of the newly liberalized media ownership rules [WAMN: 18-Jul-03], much to the displeasure of NewsCorp (owner of the national Fox network) and its rival Viacom (CBS).

The Murdoch-Redstone alliance is desperate to retain (better yet, increase) the cap lifted by the FCC in June from 35% of national reach to 45%. Failure to get their way would force both giants to dispose of some of their existing TV properties as they are already in breach of the lower percentage.

Although President Bush has let it be known he will veto any legislation that overturns the FCC’s decision, he may be swayed by the latest findings of The Pew Research Center – an independent opinion research group that studies attitudes toward the press, politics and public policy issues.

According to the Pew website on Monday, the number of Americans who disapprove of the FCC’s easing of the rules has risen from 34% in February to 50% today. Those in favor of the liberalization have declined slightly from 11% to 10%, while respondents who believe the changes will ‘make no difference’ plus the ‘don’t knows’ account for the rest.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff