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Daily Democracy

Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. Daily Democracy is part of the Democracy Papers, a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech and the press.

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March 19, 2008 3:58 PM

Approve the disapproval part II

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The House followed up on the Senate's attempt to stop the Federal Communications Commission from implementing rule changes that would allow for massive media consolidation.

The "resolution of disapproval" could stop the FCC from lifting the cross-ownership ban. The rule does not allow a company to own a newspaper, television station, and radio station in the same market. The FCC changed the rule in December allowing a single company to own newspaper, broadcast outlet, and Internet Service Provider in the same market. The FCC claims the change will only touch the nation's top 20 media markets. Not exactly. It was worded in a way so companies that do not meet the criteria can apply for waivers, essentially opening up consolidation in every media market.

The House resolution's prime sponsor is Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, and is co-sponsored by Dave Reichert, R-Auburn. Both lawmakers struck the right tone in their press statements.

Inslee:

"Consolidation already has brought us to the point where two companies control 70 percent of market revenue in an average radio market. We need to use every tool available to prevent further weakening of media-ownership rules."

Reichert:

"While I respect the free market, I believe it is a role of government to stand between corporations and consumers when the public interest is at stake. We want local media to remain local, diverse and free. Relaxing restrictions does not serve our citizens, and we're taking further action to prevent these changes from negatively affecting our communities and the families at home. We have heard from our constituents loud and clear on this issue and will continue to do what we can to maintain the diverse, free and unbiased source of news that they clearly value."

Reichert and Inslee have both worked hard in the public's interest on this matter. Their colleagues in the House must follow. The resolutions now needs to pass the House and Senate. Once that happens it goes on to the president, where the prospects of a veto are likely. The House and Senate can ensure this does not happen by gaining enough votes for an override.

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