Congress has moved to prevent enactment of the FCC’s controversial new rule that would relax the broadcast-newspaper cross-ownership ban.
Last week, a House appropriations subcommittee voted to prohibit funding of the new rule. Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate passed a “resolution of disapproval” that would nullify the rule. If the defunding provision survives mark-up in the House — expected this week — it could achieve the same effect.
The FCC, led by chairman Kevin J. Martin, rushed the vote on the new rule in a pre-holiday action last December. Congress opposed it and warned Martin it would seek to undo his regulation at the time.
President Bush may ultimately veto the legislation. However, the actions by both bodies of Congress signal increasing hostility to easing or loosening any media ownership rules. Numerous consumer groups have criticized the rule change, and efforts to oppose it show no signs of diminishing.
“I believe that the loosening of media consolidation rules is detrimental to the goals of diversity in ownership and viewpoints, as well as to localism and independence in the news media,” said Rep. Jose Serrano, D-NY, chairman of the House Appropriations Financial Services Subcommittee, which passed the defunding provision.
The FCC voted to allow media companies to own both a newspaper and a broadcast station in one of the top 20 markets in the country.