Commerce Committee ready to pound on ownership


"Industry, Non-Profits, and Academia to Testify at Media Ownership Hearing." That’s the headline from the Senate Commerce Committee advertising today’s session on "Localism, Diversity and Media Ownership." The panel participants have been identified, and it’s our guess that members of the broadcast ownership community should wear a helmet tomorrow, because it looks like there will be a steady supply of incoming testimony.

The broadcasting industry will be most closely represented by Capitol Broadcasting President/CEO Jim Goodmon, making an encore performance after testifying at last week’s FCC hearing on localism in which he called for a complete freeze of media ownership rules at least until the new digital environment shakes itself out.

After Goodmon comes Frank Blethen of the Seattle Times. A recent editorial piece in that paper penned by Ryan Blethen noted that opposing media consolidation was a bipartisan pursuit, and that members of both parties should "unite and defeat what really is a threat from the Bush administration."
The other panelists include Alex Nogales of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, who may appeal on behalf of minority ownership; Tim Winter of Parents Televison Council, who may link consolidation and coarse content). Finally, there will be John Levine, Dean of the Medill School at Northwestern University.

RBR/TVBR observation: This committee is indeed a hotbed of anti-consolidation sentiment. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) is the leading exponent of this position in the Senate, and the last committee Democrat who was more open to further deregulation, John Breaux (D-LA), is long gone. Many Republicans on the committee have sided with Dorgan on many of the consolidation issues, prominently including Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Trent Lott (R-MS). Open marketer John Sununu (R-NH) is the most likely to push for further deregulation.