Programming

Reid to Schedule Vote on FCC-Blocking Resolution

Writers Guilds Back Dorgan in Move to Head Off Further Consolidation 5/13/2008 02:04:00 AM Eastern

Look for the Senate within the next two or three weeks to vote on a resolution to invalidate the Federal Communications Commission's newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule change, according to a staffer for the resolution's co-sponsor, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.).

Harry Reid

According to Dorgan's communications director, Justin Kitsch, he heard that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he would try to schedule a vote in that time frame.

The resolution will be taken up under expedited rules, which means that all Dorgan needs is 51 votes, not the 60 that would make it filibuster-proof, Kitsch added.

Dorgan has said he is confident that the measure has enough votes. It is co-sponsored by, among others, Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Dorgan got some more support for his resolution Monday. The presidents of the Writers Guild of America (East and West branches) wrote a joint letter to the senator.

"Given the FCC’s history of permissiveness with respect to waivers and the vagueness of the new rules, the Writers Guilds of America fear that this action will trigger a new wave of media consolidation detrimental to communities that rely on local newspapers or television affiliates for local coverage," wrote Patric Verrone (West) and Michael Winship (East)

They cited downsizing of news operations at CBS-owned stations, saying that if the cross-ownership change were allowed to stand, there would likely be additional layoffs elsewhere.

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