Congress Moves to Kill Bush’s Media Consolidation Rules
The Senate last night approved a binding resolution to scrap new Bush administration rules allowing newspapers to buy up television and radio stations in the nation’s largest media outlets. Supported by the White House, the Republican majority of the Federal Communications Commission passed the rules in December, arguing that the greater consolidation will save flailing newspapers by allowing them to consolidate costs.
But opponents of the changes, led by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), say they will empower companies to control too much of the public messaging in certain communities. On the Senate floor yesterday, Dorgan said:
The issue here is simple. We have far too much concentration in the media. The Federal Communications Commission, at least the Chairman and two others who have been members, have become cheerleaders of more concentration. That means less localism. It means your local radio station, in many cases your television station, other media outlets, are run by somebody living 1,500 miles away, running homogenized music through a radio station having nothing to do with covering the local baseball team or news events. I think this moves in exactly the wrong direction.
The bill now moves to the House, where Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) is pushing the same bill. The White House is expected to veto the measure, but media consolidation is one of those rare issues that unites the opposition of both parties. (The Senate voice-vote was nearly unanimous, with vocal opposition from just two members, Georgia GOP Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson.)
With more and more congressional Republicans beginning to distance themselves from an unpopular Bush administration, this issue could produce yet another successful veto override.