US Senate Overturns FCC’s New Media Ownership Rules

17 September 2003

The Federal Communications Commission's new rules governing US media ownership were thrown out by the Senate on Tuesday by a majority of 55 votes to 40. The issue now passes to the House of Representatives where it may founder on the reef of a Republican majority larger than that in the Senate.

The vote was taken on an arcane procedure known as a ‘resolution of disapproval’, the bipartisan sponsors of which were Senators Byron Dorgan (Democrat, North Dakota) and Trent Lott (Republican, Mississippi). The duo were hopeful that the House will react to the controversial issue in like manner.

Predicted Dorgan: “I think what is going to happen is what happened in the Senate. It boiled up.” Added Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (Democrat, South Dakota): “The FCC was created to ensure the public interest, not to rubber stamp industry interests … [it] has turned a deaf ear to the public interest it is intended to serve.”

If the House vote replicates that of the Senate, aides to President Bush have said they will recommend the prez to veto the resolution – although many doubt Bush would wish to be seen to overturn the democratic will of Congress in the run-up to a presidential election, thereby priming the guns of his political opponents.

FCC chairman Michael K Powell is predictably less than enthusiastic at the prospect of his project going up in smoke. This “would only muddy the media regulatory waters,” he warned. “It would bring no clarity to media regulation, only chaos.” He hoped the House “will take a more considered view of the public interest.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff