Mar 06 2008
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has cosponsored a measure offered by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) to block the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s new rules on cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the same market.
“Concentration in media ownership threatens to undermine the independence and diversity of our nation’s news outlets. And yet the FCC pushed through a rule that would allow more cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the same market – without giving the American public the opportunity to voice its opinion,” Senator Feinstein said. “So, I stand with my colleagues to try to block these changes.”
In December 2007, the FCC made a controversial decision to allow a single company to own both newspapers and broadcast stations in the same market. Under the previous FCC rule, a company that owns a newspaper could not also own a TV station or radio station in the same market.
The rule change announced by the FCC in December would allow newspapers in the 20 largest markets to own one radio or TV station in the same market. This would allow further concentration of media ownership, which in turn leads to less diversity of views on the airwaves. In a June 2007 study, the Center for American Progress and Free Press concluded that “[o]wnership diversity is perhaps the single most important” reason for the structural imbalance of talk radio programming.
To encourage greater localism in media ownership and programming the Senate Commerce Committee in December 2007 unanimously reported out the Media Ownership Act of 2007. That legislation said the FCC should delay its vote on cross-ownership of print and broadcast outlets until it fully examined the issues of localism and diversity of station ownership. Senator Feinstein cosponsored that bill with Senators Dorgan, Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). Despite this action by the Senate Commerce Committee, the FCC went ahead with the vote to change cross-ownership rules.
Specifically, the new measure introduced by Senators Dorgan and Feinstein is a “resolution of disapproval.” It would void the FCC’s December 2007 rule change and reinstate the previous rule that prohibits cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the same market.
The measure is also cosponsored by Senators Snowe, Kerry, Susan Collins (R-Maine), Christopher Dodd (D-Mass.), Obama, Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Cantwell, Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), and Jon Tester (D-Mt.).