House Votes On Ownership Cap Compromise
On Monday, December 8, 2003, the House of Representatives voted to set the national TV-station ownership cap at 39% of all U.S. television households. The cap sits between the 45% recently mandated by the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) June rule-making and the 35% previous cap that many local broadcasters & special interest groups are clamoring to keep.
The Senate could not reach similar agreement, so the measure will wait until early next year. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) headed a group to protest a fast vote on the bill.
The 39% measure is attached to a spending bill and would be a permanent cap, taking the ability to change the cap out of the hands of the FCC.
The White House struck a deal with Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to put the 39% cap in the bill.
The three FCC Commissioners who voted to loosen media regulations in June are now asking the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to dismiss a lawsuit filed to block the new rules. Capitol Broadcasting Company joined with several other groups in filing the lawsuit in August. The three Republican FCC Commissioners outvoted the two Democrats to pass controversial media ownership deregulation. Oral arguments are scheduled for Feb. 11.