Calling Tuesday’s Federal Communications Commission vote to relax the newspaper-broadcaster cross-ownership ban “unbelievably arrogant,” a key lawmaker has vowed to initiate Senate action to invalidate it.
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who has long opposed media concentration, said the vote “will cause massive concentration” and that the Republican-controlled FCC “apparently believes we don’t have enough concentration.” Dorgan declared he would introduce a resolution of disapproval, which, if approved, would nullify the vote.
Dorgan made his remarks while speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday.
On Tuesday the FCC voted to ease the 32-year-old cross-ownership ban by allowing a media company to own a newspaper and a broadcast outlet in one of the country’s top 20 media markets, so long as the broadcast outlet is not among the top four in the market. FCC chairman Kevin Martin, who championed the measure and secured a 3-2 vote on party lines, said the measure was both necessary and long overdue given the “many voices” now available across today’s large media landscape, particularly the Internet.
“Yes, so many voices, but the same ventriloquist,” Dorgan said mockingly, and then displayed posters of media giants like Time Warner, Disney and Viacom and all their assorted media properties and subsidiaries.
Dorgan accused the FCC of “operating with strings to the White House,” and then promised: “This is not over. I will bring another resolution of disapproval, and I predict it will prevail.”
Dorgan successfully introduced such a resolution four years ago, when the FCC previously tried to eliminate the cross-ownership ban altogether.
Dorgan and GOP Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.), who is retiring after 35 years on Capitol Hill, have already introduced a bill that would block FCC action on changing media ownership rules. The House introduced a companion bill on Wednesday. The bills still need a full Senate and House vote, respectively, and would later need President Bush’s approval.