House & Senate Propose Bills Regarding Deregulation in the Media

House & Senate Propose Bills Regarding Deregulation in the Media
Others Speak Out Against the FCC’s June 2nd Deadline

Several members of Congress in both the House and Senate have proposed bills to delay the Federal Communication Commission’s ruling on June 2, 2003, about the de-regulation of the media and other relaxation of current policies.

On Friday, May 9, 2003, several members of the House of Representatives introduced Bill HR 2052 to retain the 35% national television ownership cap. In synopsis, the bill seeks to “amend the Communications Act of 1934 to preserve localism, to foster and promote the diversity of television programming, to foster and promote competition, and to prevent excessive concentration of ownership of the nation’s television broadcast stations.” Congressmen Richard Burr (R-NC) sponsored HR 2052 along with co-sponsers, John Dingell (D-MI), Nathan Deal (R-GA), David Price (D-NC) and Edward Markey (D-MA). At the time of the writing of this article, thirty Democrats and twelve Republicans in the House stood as co-sponsors of HR 2052.

To access the text of HR 2052 & S 1046, search by bill # on the Congress Bill Search website.

S. 1046 works to the same aim. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AR) introduced the bill on Tuesday, May 13, along with the support of Senators Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Conrad Burns (R-MT), Trent Lott (R-MS), Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). At the time of the writing of this article, nine Democrats and six Republicans in the Senate stood as co-sponsors of S. 1046, including Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC).

Several prominent voices have sounded out against the FCC’s proposed loosening of ownership regulations on broadcasters.

In a concert on Friday, May 23, in Washington, DC, Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam and Mike Mills of R.E.M. allied with Common Cause, MoveOn.Org, and the Future of Music Coalition in protest of the FCC’s proposed deregulation.

“Democracy is built on healthy competition in the marketplace of ideas. Without it, we diminish our freedom of expression,” said Mills. “If the FCC gives a monopoly on all news and entertainment programming to a handful of big corporations, then we also lose the diversity of ideas that makes democracy work.”

In a report released by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and Consumer’s Union (CU), “analysis shows that mergers would be allowed in 140 concentrated local markets. In as many as 100 of these local markets, representing nearly half the national population, there is one dominant newspaper. Allowing a merger between a dominant newspaper and a large TV station would create a local news giant that threatens alternative news viewpoints. In these markets, one firm would have half of the total audience and employ half the total news employees.”

“Such a news and information giant is a frightening prospect for democracy,” stated Gene Kimmelman, Senior Director for Public Policy at Consumers Union. “Public policy should err in favor of more competition rather than less so communities can enjoy a greater diversity of viewpoints so critical to democratic dialogue and debate.”

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