Dorgan launches repudiation of FCC rulemaking


Even as cases head to the courts regarding the FCC’s decision to allow local broadcast/print cross-ownership in the top 20 DMAs, promised action is underway on Capitol Hill. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has dusted off the same Resolution of Disapproval tactic that he managed to shepherd through the Senate back in 2003. The resolution, if passed, would prevent the FCC from enforcing the new rules.

"The FCC says this is a modest compromise, but make no mistake, this is a big deal. When nearly half of the people in this country are told that in their cities and towns the media will get the green light to consolidate, they will not be happy," Dorgan said. "The proposal would also create a greatly relaxed approval process for newspapers to buy TV stations in any U.S. media market and spur a new wave of media consolidation in both large and small media markets."

"Our nation is best served when we have access to a variety of media sources," he continued. "Smaller and independent media outlets across the country provide local news that simply would not exist if large media conglomerates continue their consolidation efforts."

Dorgan has lined up 13 co-sponsors, including two Republicans, one independent and both remaining Democratic presidential candidates. They include Olympia Snowe (R-ME), John Kerry (D-MA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Barack Obama (D-IL), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Joe Biden (D-DE), Jack Reed (D-RI), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Jon Tester (D-MT).

Watchdog StopBigMedia says the measure has a 60-day clock (that’s 60 legislative days) and is organizing a public campaign to contact senators and urge its passage.

RBR/TVBR observation: In case you’re wondering how John McCain (R-AZ) handled this the first time Dorgan used the tactic, the answer is that he agreed with Dorgan philosophically but opposed the tactic, preferring to address the matter with legislation he had been trying to get from the Commerce Committee to the floor.