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Archive for Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Senate repeals rules on media ownership

House will likely kill plan

September 17, 2003

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— The Senate approved a resolution Tuesday to roll back new media ownership rules that have brought heavy criticism from a broad range of advocacy groups, shifting the fight to the House where Republican leaders pledged to kill the measure.

A White House veto threat also looms over the resolution, which the Senate approved with a 55-40 vote. The resolution seeks to undo changes to Federal Communications Commission regulations governing ownership of newspapers and television and radio stations.

Critics say those changes could lead to a wave of media mergers and ultimately stifle diversity and local viewpoints in news and entertainment. A federal appeals court already has temporarily placed the rules on hold.

"The public interest prevailed over the big corporate interests today here in the Senate," Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, summed up the House prospects after the Senate vote: "It's going nowhere -- dead on arrival."

To succeed, the resolution -- called a "congressional veto" -- needs majority approval in the Senate and House as well as President Bush's signature. If Bush vetoed the resolution, it would take a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate to override.

In June, the FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to ease decades-old restrictions. The changes included allowing a single company to own TV stations reaching nearly half the nation's viewers and broadcast stations and a newspaper in the same area.

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