FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin

Senate Votes To Overturn FCC Cross-Ownership Order

May 16, 2008 04:41 PM
by Josh Katz
Thursday night, the Senate passed a resolution of disapproval to throw out a Federal Communications Commission decision relaxing newspaper–broadcast media cross-ownership standards.

30-Second Summary

In December 2007, the Republican-controlled FCC ruled 3-2 to overturn the 1978 ban on media cross-ownership and allow companies to own a newspaper and a radio or television station in the 20 largest markets in the United States. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin believed the industry had changed since 1978, and the struggling newspaper industry needed help to survive.

Newspaper executives had said the order was “too modest to be meaningful,” according to The New York Times, while some congressmen and Democrats on the FCC worried that the decision would threaten the diversity of viewpoints essential to a healthy press.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., spearheaded the Senate resolution, which is co-sponsored by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. That resolution will now proceed to the House of Representatives. However, President Bush will most likely veto any resultant bills.

Speaking for the Bush administration, Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez said that the FCC’s ruling from last year, "modernizes outdated media ownership regulations to appropriately take into account the plethora of news and information outlets that exist today,” and should not be overturned.

Josh Silver at The Huffington Post disagrees, writing that the Senate resolution “reflects growing awareness … of the perils of concentrated media ownership. Namely, insatiable profit pressures that gut newsrooms, replace labor-intensive investigative news with salacious, cheap-to-cover stories, and encourage the dumbing-down of the most pressing issues into 30-second sound bites and partisan shout-fests.”

Headline Links: Senate passes resolution against FCC ruling

Background: The December 2007 FCC order

Opinion & Analysis: On the consolidation of media

Related Topics: Murdoch, broadcast radio and satellite radio

Reference: The resolution of disapproval


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