8 May 2005 at 10:54:15 PM
The FCC tried, unsuccessfully, to alter Media Ownership Rules by allowing cross-ownership by one entity of another type in the same market. For example, a tv or radio station could also own a newspaper. At the time, Michael Powell attempted to sneak the Media Ownership Rules through, he didn't call any public meetings (Ken Ferree also had a hand in this.) When the public heard about this, there was an outpouring of non-support for these rules, because the public didn't want monopoly control of the media. Case went to court, which ruled against the FCC.
The FCC, led by outgoing chairman Michael Powell, had approved new regulations in 2003 that would have allowed giant media corporations to own as many as three television stations, eight radio stations and a cable operator, as well as a newspaper in a single city.
The FCC's attempt to allow for greater media consolidation resulted in a massive grassroots organizing effort. The FCC received more than 750,000 comments on the issue -- 99 percent of the comments opposed allowing for greater media consolidation.
Most of the country's major media corporations had lobbied the FCC to approve the changes. The companies included Viacom (which owns CBS), NBC, News Corporation which owns Fox, the Tribune Company, Gannett and The New York Times Company.
In 2003, the Prometheus Radio Project of Philadelphia filed a lawsuit to block the implementation of the FCC rule changes. In June 2004 a federal appeals court ruled in favor of Prometheus
Now we see that there is another attempt to sneak this through Congress again, in bill HR 1622 introduced on April 13, 2005 by Stearnes- To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to reduce restrictions on media ownership, and for other purposes.
SEC. 2. CROSS-OWNERSHIP LIMITATIONS.
(a) Rule Changes Required- The Federal Communications Commission shall modify section 73.3555 of its regulations (47 CFR 73.3555) by eliminating any provisions limiting the granting or renewal of an AM or FM radio or television broadcast station license to any party (including parties under common control) on the basis of the ownership, operation, or control by such party of a daily newspaper.
(b) Deadline for Actions- The Federal Communications Commission shall complete all actions necessary to complete the modifications required by this section within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
SEC. 3. TELEVISION MULTIPLE OWNERSHIP.
Section 310 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 310) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
`(f) National Audience Reach Calculation- In calculating the national audience reach limitations for television stations under the Commission's regulations, UHF television stations shall be attributed with no more than 50 percent of the television households in their market.'.
SEC. 4. LIMITATION ON FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION AUTHORITY.
(a) Amendment- Section 202(c)(1)(B) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is amended by striking `39 percent' and inserting `45 percent'.
(b) Deadline for Implementation- The Federal Communications Commission shall amend its regulations to implement the amendment made by subsection (a) within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act. In amending such regulations, the Commission shall not revise section 73.3555(e)(2)(i) of its regulations (47 CFR 73.3555(e)(2)(i)).
SEC. 5. MULTIPLE TELEVISION STATION OWNERSHIP.
(a) Local Television Multiple Ownership Rule Changes Required- The Federal Communications Commission shall revise its rule for local television multiple ownership set forth in section 73.3555(b) of its regulations (47 CFR 73.3555(b)) to permit a person or entity to directly or indirectly own, operate, or control two television stations in the same designated market area if--
(1) the grade B contours of such stations do not overlap; or
(2) the grade B contours of such stations do overlap and at least 6 independent broadcast or cable television voices would remain in the designated market area after the transfer of ownership, operation, or control of the license of the stations in question.
(b) Independent Voices- In making the revision required by subsection (a), the Commission shall determine the number of independent broadcast or cable television voices that would remain as follows:
(1) BROADCAST TELEVISION STATIONS- Each independently owned and operating full power broadcast television station within the designated market area shall be counted as one independent voice.
(2) ONE CABLE SYSTEM COUNTED- Regardless of how many individual cable systems operate in the designated market area, if cable television is generally available to households in the area, cable television shall be treated as one independent voice
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