Senate Seeks to Counter FCC

WASHINGTON The Senate Commerce Committee plans to vote Wednesday on legislation that would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s recent decision lifting the federal ban against joint ownership of a newspaper and a broadcast outlet in the same market.

Under the so-called “legislative veto” being pushed by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., the resolution would rescind the FCC’s December decision to allow newspaper-broadcast combinations in the nation’s top 20 markets.

The FCC also gave permanent waivers to the cross-ownership ban in 42 situations and made it easier to win waivers for newspaper-broadcast combinations in smaller markets.

While the resolution would likely face a veto by President Bush, approval, even if it was only by the Senate, “would send a strong message” that the public is opposed to easing ownership rules.

The FCC decision also faces several legal challenges from parties who think it went too far — and from those who feel it didn’t go far enough.