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CU Applauds Media Ownership Cap in Spending Bill

Thursday, Nov. 20, 2003
Susan Herold,
Consumers Union, 202-462-6262

Consumers Union Applauds Congressional Leaders’ Bipartisan Support for Media Ownership Cap in Spending Bill

(Washington, D.C.) – Consumers today applauded Congressional leaders for standing up against media giants – and defying a White House veto threat – by including in a spending bill a rollback of the Federal Communication Commission’s new media ownership rules that would have allowed massive broadcast networks to swallow up even more local television stations.
“When Congress gets this done it will be an enormous victory for consumers concerned about the largest media companies buying more local media properties, and thereby reducing competition and local input in broadcast television,” said Gene Kimmelman, director of public policy for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.
“We believe the enormous bipartisan support for overturning the FCC’s new media regulations, following widespread public outcry over the threat of losing competition and diversity in the media, indicates that this rebuke to the FCC is just the first step in overturning the agency’s entire media ownership rules.”
Kimmelman said he is hopeful the White House will sign the measure once it is passed, considering the widespread public support for the media ownership cap, which would limit corporations from owning TV stations that reach more than 35 percent of the national audience. Groups from across the political and social spectrum have supported a rollback of the new rules, which would have increased the cap to 45 percent of the national audience.
While the 35 percent ownership cap is vital to ensuring greater diversity and localism in the media, Kimmelman said he expect Congress to continue to do more next year to protect independent media voices by rejecting the FCC’s rule that allows TV-newspaper cross ownership in most communities.
“We are confident that next year Congress will do more to prevent the FCC from allowing large media companies to dominate the most important sources of news and information in communities across the country,” Kimmelman said.