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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 5, 2008 4:00 PM

Approve the disapproval

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., introduced a "resolution of disapproval" to stop new media ownership rules recently adopted by the Federal Communications Commission. The story can be found here.

The legislation, which is co-sponsored by Maria Cantwell, is as important as it was expected. The resolution would stop the FCC from lifting its cross-ownership ban. The commission thumbed its nose at the public when it voted 3-2 to change the rules in December.

The new rule, which allow a company to own a newspaper, broadcast outlet and an Internet Service Provider in the same market, was sneaky. FCC chairman Kevin Martin said the change would only affect the nation's top 20 media markets. Not true. The new rule was written in a way to allow exceptions for any market.

Cantwell said through a press release that:

"I am all for moving as quickly as possible on this and making sure our media sources stay diverse and independent. Increased media consolidation is not consistent with the public interest. The FCC's new rules will lead to increased cross ownership of newspapers and broadcast outlets that will open the gates to increased media consolidation in media markets of all sizes. Today's resolution is a step in the right direction, and I will continue working to make sure independent voices aren't drowned out."

The rest of the Senate needs to join the 13 senators who have signed on to the resolution. I also want to hear from the three remaining presidential candidates. Do they agree with Dorgan? I hope so.

UPDATE: Sens. Obama and Clinton both signed onto the resolution. Waiting on Sen. McCain.

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