Senators Seek Media Ownership Rule Ban

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A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday introduced a resolution to thwart a rule that loosens media ownership restrictions in the nation’s 20 largest cities.

They fear the new rule would leave newspaper readers and TV viewers with fewer choices to get their information.

The “resolution of disapproval” was introduced by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., _ along with 13 Democratic and Republican co-sponsors _ to stop the Federal Communications Commission from implementing the new rule that the agency approved in December. The FCC released the formal order on Wednesday.

“When nearly half of the people in this country are told that in their cities and towns the media will get the green light to consolidate, they will not be happy,” said Dorgan in a release. “The proposal would also create a greatly relaxed approval process for newspapers to buy TV stations in any U.S. media market and spur a new wave of media consolidation in both large and small media markets.”

Dorgan said the FCC “ignored the thousands of comments at public hearings” opposed to further consolidation.

An FCC spokeswoman did not immediately comment on the resolution.

Justin Kitsch, a spokesman for Dorgan, said the Senate has 60 legislative days to vote on the resolution.

The agency’s new rule overturns a 32-year-old ban intended to keep major media companies from monopolizing newspapers and broadcasters in their market.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who voted for the measure along with his two Republican colleagues, pressed for a vote on the measure despite opposition from some Capitol Hill lawmakers to delay it.

The agency’s two Democrats say the rule will trigger more consolidation. Martin contends that in the top 20 media markets, the FCC would have a high threshold for approving co-ownership.

Kitsch said Dorgan and former Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., passed a resolution to overturn a similar FCC rule in 2003 that would have permitted more media consolidation.

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