Maybe we should have written “Groups PUSH,” since Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition is one of the organizations trying to get the House to endorse Byron Dorgans’s revival of the Resolution of Disapproval to negate an FCC cross-ownership ruling last December. The National Hispanic Media Coalition is among eight other groups involved in the effort, according to a report from watchdog Reclaim the Media. And spearheading the effort, from right there on Capitol Hill, is Maxine Waters (D-CA).
The Senate rewarded Dorgan with near-unanimous approval way back in May, but a companion effort introduced in the House by Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Dave Reichert (R-WA) and endorsed by over 50 co-sponsors has failed thus far to make it to the floor.
Dorgan, who first came up with the Resolution of Disapproval concept after Michael Powell’s 6/2/03 deregulatory ownership rulemaking, revived the issue when FCC Chairman and fellow Republicans outvoted two Democratic commissioners on much more modest proposal to legalize local cross-ownership between different types of media in the top 20 Nielsen DMAs. That rulemaking is under attack in the courts for going too far, and for not going far enough – the latter attack coming from groups who were pleased with the Powell effort, thought it was justified and want it codified into the regulations.
The court challenges were consolidated in the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, which last we knew was in the process of deciding if the case would go back to the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia, from whence came the Prometheus Decision remanding the Powell dereg back to the FCC; or to the DC Circuit in Washington, which has extensive experience in communications cases.
RBR/TVBR observation: Media watchdogs don’t need to worry too much at this particular point in time. It is decidedly not a good time for any company contemplating further media consolidation. In fact, it would be an absolutely outstanding time for a new company to come in and reduce consolidation. There are certainly enough broadcast stations on the market. Unfortunately, at the moment, credit is becoming a novelty item. And the prices sellers may hope to get from a spin-off have no discernable relationship to the prices someone else is willing or able to pay. Anyway, with the caveat that on Capitol Hill you just never know, but with the distraction of elections and various other crises, and the mired-in-court status of the issue, we don’t see this going anywhere in the immediate future.