Monday, May 19, 2008

Historic Senate Vote on FCC - Now to the House

Senators Bryon Dorgan (D-North Dakota) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)

Last December the Federal Communications Commission pushed through new rules that gutted the local "cross-ownership" prohibition. This would mean more big conglomerates gobbling up our local papers and TV stations.

Last Thursday night, after receiving thousands of phone calls and more than 250,000 letters, the Senate cast a near-unanimous
vote to reverse the FCC’s decision to let media companies own both a major TV or radio station and a major daily newspaper in the same city.

Read on for why you should contact your Representative NOW.

The action was a censure of the FCC.
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who introduced the rarely used "resolution of disapproval,"
said last night
that "the FCC is supposed to be a referee for the media industry, but instead they've been cheerleaders in favor of more consolidation. ... We already have too much concentration in the media."
The victory was bi-partisan, as Senator Olympia Snowe recognized:
Preventing further media consolidation has been a bipartisan effort, and the resolution before us today is no different. We owe it to the American people to restore confidence in the FCC’s commitment not only to uphold the public interest but to advance it and strengthen it. That is why it is undeniably incumbent upon the commission members to revisit these rules and establish a set of standards that will effectively promote localism and minority and women-ownership, not more media consolidation. We must not allow the indispensable role the media plays in promoting diversity and localism to be further marginalized and miniaturized by unchecked consolidation within the industry.
The vote, according to Josh Silver in the
Huffington Post was good news for everyone fed up with the current media system:
The Senate vote is good news for everyone who is fed up with a media system, that, in the words of Jon Stewart, is "hurting America" with propaganda pundits, embedded journalists, horse-race election coverage, and celebrity gossip posing as news. It reflects growing awareness -- in Congress and with average Americans -- of the perils of concentrated media ownership. Namely, insatiable profit pressures that gut newsrooms, replace labor-intensive investigative news with salacious, cheap-to-cover stories, and encourage the dumbing-down of the most pressing issues into 30-second sound bites and partisan shout-fests.
But the fight is not over.
The resolution of disapproval now
moves to the House, where it already has bipartisan support. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) is ready to push his companion bill in the House, or alternately simply adopt the Senate resolution if it will speed it to a floor vote and passage. Rep. Inslee says he will likely talk
with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other House leadership next week about the fastest way to get the bill passed.
President Bush has said threatened to veto the bill, so what is needed is a veto-proof majority in Congress in support of the resolution. We need not wait for a new administration in Washington to begin cleaning up the politization and cronyism of the federal agencies under this one. We can win this one. Call or write your Representative to support the “resolution of disapproval” of the FCC rules. Let’s not let the historic victory in the Senate slip away in the House.

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