FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2004
Chris Murray (Media Ownership) or
Adam Goldberg (Meat Labeling)
(Washington, D.C.) – The Senate today voted against closing off debate on the $820 billion omnibus spending bill that funds government operations for the remainder of the fiscal year. Forty-five Senators voted against cloture on this sweeping spending bill which includes bad policy directives and is loaded with pet spending projects. For instance:
● Country-of-origin labels on beef, which were to go into effect Sept. 30 and are critical now that Mad Cow disease has been discovered in Canada, are delayed for two years in the bill until 2006. With the recent discovery that a Canadian cow with the disease was processed into the American food supply, it is now more important than ever to provide consumers with information about the food they eat.
● Media ownership limits keeping the largest networks from buying up even more TV stations were significantly weakened in the omnibus, leading to more national control over local TV programming. With polls showing most Americans get their news from TV and newspapers and opposing control of their local media by major corporations, it is vital that real ownership limits be put in place.
● Meanwhile, there are 7,000 pet projects costing several billion dollars packed into the omnibus, including $50 million to build an indoor rain forest in Iowa and $2 million to encourage youth to play golf.
“Consumers should be pleased that the Senate voted against pork politics and special interests that were asking to weaken meat labeling standards and sensible media ownership protections. But this fight isn’t over yet—citizens need to make their voices heard and encourage Congress to fix the substantive problems on media ownership and country-of-origin labeling that are contained in the omnibus bill,” said Gene Kimmelman, Public Policy Director for Consumers Union.
Kimmelman stated, “What remains is for Congress to restore reasonable ownership limits that prevent a dominant broadcaster from swallowing up the leading local newspaper. Evidence clearly shows that people get far more local news from newspapers than they do from any other source. The FCC’s move to allow even more concentration in local newspaper markets is not just bad for local media markets, it’s bad for democracy.”
Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, is an independent nonprofit testing, educational and information organization serving only the consumer. We are a comprehensive source of unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health, nutrition, and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, our mission has been to test products, inform the public, and protect consumers.