The Senate Commerce Committee has included "S.J. Res. 28, A joint resolution disapproving the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with respect to broadcast media ownership" on the agenda of a mark-up session to be held next week. The resolution would prevent the FCC from enforcing the rule it passed 12/18/07 allowing cross-owned print/broadcast in-market combinations.
Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has been the driving force behind the measure, a duplicate of his similar effort to derail the infamous Michael Powell 6/2/03 ownership rulemaking attempt. During the earlier effort, Dorgan received bipartisan support in the Senate, including a key alliance with Trent Lott (R-MS). A companion to the Dorgan measure stalled in the House, but it became a moot point when the Third Circuit sent most of the rulemaking back to the FCC for a do-over after hearing the Prometheus challenge to the rulemaking.
Lott is gone, but Ted Stevens (R-AK) has taken his place as the senior cross-aisle Dorgan ally, and this time prospects for the measure passing in the House are much greater with Democrats now in charge.
RBR/TVBR observation: As was the case last time around, the Dorgan measure is concurrent with numerous court challenges, some of which argue that the FCC went too far in relaxing the rules; and others which argue it did not go nearly far enough.
Sometimes we sadly think we will not have the pleasure of sitting in a comfortable chair with our grandchildren gathered around, telling them marvelous tales of the golden days when we covered the great controversy over media ownership. But on the plus side, we’ll be able to have a vibrant discussion with the youngsters on the finer points of the ongoing battle to resolve one way or the other the issues set in motion during that summer day back in 2003.