Senate Committee Jumps in on FCC Media Rules Push

Jun 28, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Just days after the Federal Communications Commission initiated a new review of the nation’s media-ownership rules, the Senate Commerce Committee moved to make sure the public gets an opportunity to comment on any proposal the agency comes up with.

The committee on Wednesday tacked the FCC provision onto a bill that will make it easier for telephone companies to get into the pay-television business.

The public-comment requirement recalls the Senate’s objection to the FCC’s failed attempt in 2003 to loosen ownership rules. In that effort, the agency sought public comment, had one hearing and approved the rules without allowing the public to comment on specific provisions.

That action upset senators who eventually voted to overturn the rules. Nothing came of the vote after the House refused to go along. The FCC’s media rules were later overturned by a federal appellate court, handing former FCC Chairman Michael Powell a defeat.

The FCC amendment was offered by Senators Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Trent Lott, R-Miss., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla.