One-Month Delay for Congress Action Against FCC Media Rules

06 October 2003

Legislative action to roll back proposed reforms to US media ownership law looks set to be delayed until next month at least.

A spending bill that reverses the Federal Communications Commission's decision to raise the TV ownership cap has been making its way through Congress, but will now probably be combined with an omnibus spending bill not due to be considered until November.

The original bill would prevent the FCC from implementing its plan to lift from 35% to 45% the maximum percentage of households a TV company is permitted to reach. However, senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona) has put this bill on hold until the omnibus measure comes under discussion.

McCain – chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee – opposes the FCC proposals, but is unwilling to use a spending bill to reverse them. Instead, he wants Congress to take up a separate measure backed by his committee that would roll back the cap to 35% and reverse other FCC decisions.

McCain insists he will do his best to keep such matters out of the omnibus spending bill. However, if Congress insists on these amendments, he may attempt to include additional clauses reversing the FCC's deregulation of local media markets.

"It's the height of hypocrisy to address one rule and not address another," he blasted.

McCain is thought to oppose the FCC's plan to lift the ban on ownership of both newspapers and TV stations.

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