StopBigMedia.com is attempting to block the acquisition of Sam Zell’s Tribune’s Newsday by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation with yet another click and send campaign, and it’s also asking supporters to get on the horn to their own senators. It has praised Byron Dorgan’s resolution of disapproval, which has already cleared the Senate Commerce Committee, and is urging action by the full Senate in hopes of heading off Murdoch’s two-TV, three-newspaper NYC-area empire-building project.
Dorgan has a much better chance of getting companion legislation though the House than last time he attempted this maneuver, but faces the strong possibility of a White House veto should Harry Reid (D-NV) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) decide to fast track this legislation.
StopBigMedia claims 25 senators already lined up behind Dorgan’s measure, including Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY). But Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez has gone public with his recommendation of a presidential veto should the measure pass, and while all this maneuvering goes on in Washington, just about the entire body of FCC ownership regulation is under challenge in the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, from some on grounds of being too lenient and from others on grounds that they are too restrictive.
RBR/TVBR observation: We remember Michael Powell kicking off the latest round of ownership reg review in the Fall of 2002, and though a few items are actually in effect, such as the new radio market rule, we are no closer to a clear answer on most of the proposals than we’ve ever been. Zell wants to sell, but if Murdoch is the buyer, in no way would it be a straight-forward transaction. If we had a buyer who would not have to involve Congress, the White House, the FCC and/or the courts in order to sign on the bottom line, we know what we’d be thinking.