Senate Approves Media Ownership Resolution

May 15, 2008. The Senate approved, by voice vote, SJRes 28, which provides as follows: "Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to broadcast media ownership (Report and Order FCC 07-216), received by Congress on February 22, 2008, and such rule shall have no force or effect."

See, story titled "FCC Releases Text of Media Ownership Order" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,714, February 8, 2008, story titled "Copps and Adelstein Complain About FCC Media Ownership Agenda Item" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,688, December 13, 2007, and story titled "Martin Releases Media Ownership Proposal" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,675, November 13, 2007.

This item is FCC 07-216 in MB Docket No. 06-121, MB Docket No. 02-277, MM Docket No. 01-235, MM Docket No. 01-317, MM Docket No. 00-244, MB Docket No. 04-228, and MM Docket No. 99-360.

See also, story titled "Senate Commerce Committee Approves Resolution Condemning FCC Media Ownership Order" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,753, April 24, 2008.

This was a voice vote. However, three Senators asked that they be recorded as "no" votes: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA).

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) stated in the Senate that "I think there is too much concentration in the media. The FCC rule moves in exactly the wrong direction, adding more concentration." See, Congressional Record, May 15, 2008, at Page S4267.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) stated that "the existing waivers contemplated under the FCC cross-ownership rule should be protected. This means that those waivers would not be a part of this resolution."

He continued that "I would like to confirm that this resolution, while it would nullify the revised version of the FCC's newspaper cross-ownership ban, would not undo or in any manner change the FCC's decision to grant permanent waivers to five existing newspaper-broadcast combinations, and thus grandfather them, as set forth in paragraphs 77 and 158 of the FCC's December 18, 2007 Report and Order."

Sen. Dorgan (at right) responded that "Under the Congressional Review Act, the resolution of disapproval is intended to overturn a specific rule, not other parts of an agency's order. The waivers are not rules. The resolution is written in a specific way referring to an order, but it is the rule that is nullified. These waivers could have been granted alone or under the previous cross-ownership ban. It is not the intention of this resolution to affect the waivers in the order."

Randy May, head of the Free State Foundation (FSF), stated in a release that "The reality is there is no lack of diversity of opinion in today’s media marketplace characterized by a multiplicity of voices. The relaxation of the rule is a small step towards getting rid of antiquated ownership rules adopted in a much different media era."

In contrast, Ed Black, head of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), praised the resolution. He stated in a release that "Our nation's economic history has shown more competition is better for consumers and for innovation ... Competition is perhaps even more critical in the media industry where consolidation leads to fewer perspectives and less checks against private sector wrongdoing and government abuses of power.  Policy makers must factor in the unique role the media plays in our democracy when contemplating policies for transactions within the media industry. This is one area where business is not business as usual."