US Senate Seeks to Overturn Media Ownership Rule Changes

29 April 2008

WASHINGTON DC: US lawmakers are trying to overturn a Federal Communications Commission ruling that has watered down rules barring media owners from controlling both a TV channel and a newspaper in the nation's 20 largest markets.

A resolution introduced to the Senate by the Commerce Committee seeks to undo the changes to the 32-year-old restrictions voted in by the FCC in December.

The effort is being led by Senator Byron Dorgan, a Democrat highly critical of media concentration.

Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have backed Dorgan's bill, although President Bush has signalled he will veto it if it is passed by the Senate.

Says Dorgan: "We have five or six major corporations in this country that determine, for the most part, what Americans see, hear, and read every day. I don't think that's healthy for our country."

He cited News Corporation's attempts to buy a third major New York newspaper, Newsday, while also owning two TV stations and two other major newspapers in the same market as "another example of concentration that I think is unhealthy".

He refutes the Republican-controlled FCC's argument that the internet and cable TV allow for many media voices. 
Dorgan adds: "Diverse, independent, and local media sources are essential to ensuring that the public has access to a variety of information."

Data sourced from Adweek (USA); additional content by WARC staff