Spurred by Senate anti-consolidation point man Byron Dorgan (D-ND), the Senate Commerce Committee is planning a session of media ownership and localism this Thursday, 11/8/07. Anybody who has been following developments on this issue over the last five years has to be wondering, what about Ed Markey (D-MA) over in the House? Wonder no longer. Markey is holding session on the topic in his Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, and will share the room with colleague Bart Stupak (D-MI) and his own Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Both have the full backing and cooperation of Energy & Commerce chair John Dingell (D-MI).
The session is scheduled for Thursday, 12/6/07, 12 days before Martin is believed to be contemplating action on ownership issues.
"A diversity of viewpoints in the media is important to a free flow of information in our democracy", said Stupak. "As Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, I intend to look carefully at how the FCC has approached media ownership issues and ensure that the FCC’s media ownership studies provide a balanced accounting of the facts, not one-sided justification for more media concentration."
"Media diversity and localism are vital to the citizens of the country and critical to vibrant civic discourse, and independent local news and information in communities around the nation," said Markey. "Congress has an important role to play in reviewing any proposal that will impact the acceptable level of concentration of media properties in a community. I look forward to this hearing and the opportunity to publicly review and debate any FCC proposals for new ownership rules."
RBR/TVBR observation: Powell’s 2003 rulemaking was repudiated by the Senate, but received the protection of Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Tom DeLay (R-TX), who at the time were Speaker and Majority Leader, respectively, until the courts stepped in and effectively seconded the Senate. Hastert and DeLay will not be performing that service again. Hastert is now just a rank-and-file member and believed to be headed to early retirement, and DeLay is gone completely. Although nobody knows what Martin intends to accomplish, whatever it is appears likely to meet an instantaneous opposite reaction across the Mall on Capitol Hill.