Surprise! Anti-consolidation measure surfaces


Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Dave Reichert (R-WA) were handling the House version of Byron Dorgan’s Resolution of Disapproval, which would remove the force from the FCC’s easement on cross-ownership restrictions in the top 20 DMAs. That legislation is still pending, but a similar measure has emerged from a House Appropriations subcommittee. A plank was slipped into FY 2009 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill by Jose Serrano (D-NY) and his Financial Services Subcommittee.

Among many other things, according to Serrano, “The bill would also prohibit funds from being used to implement or enforce the Federal Commission’s recent changes to the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules. I believe that the loosening of consolidation rules is detrimental to the goals of diversity in ownership and viewpoints, well as to localism and independence in the news media.”

According to a report from Dow Jones, Ranking Member Ralph Regula (R-OH) expressed concern about the FCC language, but not enough concern to prevent unanimous passage of the bill. It moves forward for full Appropriations Committee consideration.

RBR/TVBR observation: If nothing else, this gives a version of Dorgan’s resolution another avenue toward the President’s desk. And once something gets into the appropriations process, anything can happen and often does behind closed doors. The FCC plank could make it through both the full committee and the conference committee when Senate and House versions of this bill are merged into one. If it survives that, it will be that more difficult for President Bush to follow the advice of Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and veto the cross-ownership reversal. On the other hand, a big thick black magic market could be used to excise the Serrano plank at any step in the process. Stay tuned.