FCC chairman Michael Powell defends the controvertial media ownership ruling even as the House prepared to block it:
- “We are confident in our decision” FCC Chairman Michael Powell said in a written statement. “We created enforceable rules that reflect the realities of today’s media marketplace. The rules will benefit Americans by protecting localism, competition and diversity.”
The defiant remarks were issued before expected House passage of a bill derailing an FCC decision to let companies own TV stations serving up to 45 percent of the nation’s viewers. The current ceiling is 35 percent.
Approval was expected despite opposition by House Republican leaders and a White House veto threat.
….The new FCC rules “would make Citizen Kane look like an underachiever,” Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said Tuesday, referring to the 1941 film about a plutocratic media magnate. “It’s too much.”
The biggest beneficiaries of the FCC’s ruling would be Viacom Inc., which owns the CBS and UPN networks, and News Corp., owner of Fox. Due to mergers and acquisitions, both already exceed the 35 percent limit.
Short of support and eager to prevent FCC opponents from using a House roll call to show their strength, GOP leaders didn’t even try removing the language from the bill. Instead, they said they would seek to kill it when House-Senate bargainers craft a compromise bill later this year.
….The House bill affected only part of the FCC’s decision.
By 254-174, the chamber rejected an amendment by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., to kill the entire FCC ruling, which he said would impede local media control. The June 2 ruling also would make it easier for companies to own newspapers and broadcast stations in the same community, and to own more than one broadcast outlet in a market. [AP]