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01.24.2003
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Tauzin rankles NATPE convention

Late last year Rep. Billy Tauzin’s proposal to set 2006 as the deadline for analog television broadcasting sent his Congressional colleagues running for political cover. Last week, the Republican sent a similar chill through an audience at the NATPE convention in New Orleans when he termed media ownership rules a threat to the “free speech” of large corporations.

Tauzin's opposition to current media ownership rules was out of sync with the television programming executives who predict that greater corporate consolidation of broadcast outlets will increase the media monoculture, resulting in less creative programming and fewer opportunities for producers. None of this seemed to bother the outspoken Tauzin.

“It still appalls me that we have a big agency (referring to the FCC) that regulates speech in America,” said Tauzin, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. "You've got to let the people speak and you've got to protect them from a government controlling speech."

“So all these questions about ownership, competition, about the way in which communications is organized, I start from the proposition that there should be minimum control, regulation of all those things,” he continued. “The (FCC) threatens free speech every day when it over-regulates.”

Tauzin’s unpopular speech got a swift response to the same audience.

“I am inspired by many in our industry who have mobilized for a fight against efforts to relax long-standing limits on media ownership in the U.S., said NATPE President Bruce Johansen. “This coalition includes directors, producers, actors and writers who share a common concern that any move by the FCC to allow further consolidation in the TV business could greatly reduce jobs and stifle creativity. This will be one of the great issues that we'll be facing over the next few months.”

For more information visit www.natpe.org.

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