Washington

Dorgan Has Media-Ownership Bill in His Sights

Dorgan may introduce a “resolution of disapproval,” which would nullify the FCC’s decision to loosen newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules 12/24/2007 02:01:00 AM Eastern

An aide to Senator Byron Dorgan says the North Dakota Democrat will make blocking a media ownership bill a high priority when the Senate gets back to real business toward the end of January.

Byron DorganThe Senate is technically staying in session during the traditional winter break; Democrats are holding pro forma openings and closings of the session each day--lasting about 10 seconds in all--to prevent President Bush from making any recess appointments.

Dorgan’s aide says the senator is considering several ways to block an ownership bill. One is a “resolution of disapproval,” which would nullify the FCC’s decision to loosen newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules—something Dorgan calls a colossal mistake, according to the aide.

That bill can’t be introduced until the rule goes into effect, which will be 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register. But it won’t be published in the register until the FCC comes out with the final rule, which can take months. However, the process may be expedited in this case, as it was for Tribune’s waivers of the rules.

But Dorgan could also block it using a bill he has already gotten passed in the Senate Commerce Committee. That bill was meant to block the vote in the first place, but it didn’t get floor time, and the FCC approved the change Dec. 18 as planned. The bill could be amended to work retroactively, however, says the aide.

Then there is modifying an appropriations bill to de-fund the deregulatory change, which Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) have championed.

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