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Oct 21, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Lawmakers Urge Vote to Overturn Ownership Deregulation

Breathing new life into the legislative effort to overturn the Federal Communications Commission media ownership deregulation, key lawmakers today said that 190 congressmen-including eight Republicans-have signed a letter urging House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., to schedule a vote on a resolution that would overturn the FCC’s deregulation.

The Senate approved the resolution in a 55-40 vote last month. But the resolution’s prospects have been in doubt ever since, largely because House GOP leaders-led by Reps. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and Billy Tauzin, R-La.-have been blocking debate and a vote on the issue on the House floor.

At a press briefing today, however, Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., said he and other House proponents of an FCC rules rollback have won the support of almost half of their congressional colleagues to bring the issue to a vote. “There is very substantial sentiment in the House … to rescind,” said Rep. Hinchey, adding that he expects more than 200 of the House’s 435 lawmakers to sign the letter before it is forwarded to Rep. Hastert within the next several days. Rep. Hinchey also said that if House GOP leaders refuse to voluntarily bring the resolution to the floor, he and other rollback proponents will try to force the leadership’s hand, using a “discharge petition,” which requires a House vote on an initiative if signed by 218 House members.

The lawmaker also said that he took the first step in getting a discharge petition rolling Friday by introducing the requisite House resolution. “We are on a roll here, ” Rep. Hinchey said. Added Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., “We have the votes to win this.” Also at the briefing, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.-who has been leading the charge on the resolution in the Senate-dismissed White House threats to veto the resolution as “hot air.” President Bush will sign the resolution legislation, Sen. Dorgan said, because “he wants people to think he stands with the public interest.”

Also today, Media Access Project told the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia that the FCC’s rationale for the deregulation failed in part because it was based on a diversity index that was “designed to give the appearance of science to a set of illogical and inconsistent assumptions.”

Also in a court filing the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance said of the FCC decision to raise the cap on national TV ownership from 35 percent to 45 percent: “Rarely has such an important decision by a federal agency been based on such patently inadequate reasoning.”

‘Joe,’ ‘Skin’ Don’t Deliver for Fox: Coming off a two-week-long baseball high, Fox’s saw its new Monday night lineup premiere to a disappointing fourth-place finish last night, despite heavy promotion during baseball games and a big off-air marketing campaign.

“The Next Joe Millionaire” managed only a 3.1/9 in adults 18 to 49 and 6.6 million total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. That’s a far cry from the 10.1/22 demo rating and 18.6 million viewers who tuned in for the premiere episode of the first “Joe Millionaire” in January.

Competition is stronger in the fall, and Joe doesn’t have the 9 p.m. timeslot it had last season. Instead, it airs at 8 p.m. when TV usage levels are lower. But it did poorly in comparison with other programming, even being beaten by a “Threat Matrix” repeat on ABC (3.7/10) in adults 18 to 49 and by The WB’s “7th Heaven” in total viewers (6.9 million).

New drama “Skin” did even worse at 9 p.m. with a 2.7/7 in adults 18 to 49 and 6.5 million total viewers. The show dropped 13 percent in adults 18 to 49 from its “Joe” lead-in.

Winners for the night included NBC’s “Fear Factor” at 8 p.m., which won adults 18 to 49 (5.1/14) and total viewers (12 million); ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” which won adults 18 to 49 (6.9/17) and total viewers (17.1 million) in the 9 p.m. hour and the demo in the 10 p.m. hour (6.5/16); and CBS’s “CSI: Miami,” which won the 10 p.m. hour in total viewers (17.6 million).

Also of note, NBC’s “Las Vegas,” which finished in third place in its time slot in adults 18 to 49 (4.6/11), had its highest demo numbers since its premiere Sept. 22.

For the night, ABC won adults 18 to 49 with a 5.7/15, followed by CBS (5.2/13), NBC (4.4/11), Fox (2.7/7), The WB (1.7/4) and UPN (1.6/4). In total viewers, CBS won the night with 15.2 million, followed by ABC (14.7 million), NBC (10.9 million), Fox (6.4 million), The WB (4.8 million) and UPN (3.7 million). ABC’s numbers will change when final national figures are available later today because fast affiliates are not time zone-adjusted for live sporting events.

UPN Pulls ‘The Mullets’: UPN has pulled its new Tuesday sitcom “The Mullets” from its schedule. The move is effective immediately. UPN will air a “Girlfriends” repeat in its place this Tuesday night. Seven episodes of the show have yet to air. The show is officially on hiatus and will not run during November sweeps. Airing at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night, the show has yet to find an audience after six episodes. In its last airing, the show managed only a 0.8 rating/2 share and 1.85 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.