Senate Scheduled to Begin Debate on FCC-Blocking Bill

Administration Reiterates Opposition to Bill

The Bush administration sent another warning signal to Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) that it will veto his legislative effort to invalidate the Federal Communications Commission's loosening of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules.

That is because the debate on the bill was scheduled to begin after consideration of a farm bill. Late Thursday, it was looking more like Friday or Monday for debate and a vote perhaps Tuesday.

In a statement Thursday from the administration, which usually accompanies the beginning of Senate consideration of a bill, the Bush administration reiterated its opposition to the move.

Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez already said he would advise the president to veto it.

The full administration statement is printed below:

"The administration strongly opposes Senate passage of S.J. Res. 28, a resolution disapproving the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with respect to broadcast media ownership," the statement said, according to a copy supplied to B&C.

"The FCC rule, which is the product of years of study and extensive public comment and consultation, modestly and judiciously modernizes decades-old media-ownership regulations that highly restrict cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations," it continued.

The statement went on, "As a result of technological advances that have led to a dramatic and permanent transformation of the media marketplace in which citizens now have access to a multitude of additional sources of information, these outdated restrictions are not necessary."

It continued, "The new rule more accurately reflects this changing media landscape by taking into account the abundance of news and information outlets that exist today and furthers the public interest by providing greater financial flexibility to newspaper and broadcast outlets struggling to survive in today's intensely competitive media environment. In addition to reducing the prior rule's excessive regulation of well-functioning markets, the new FCC rule includes substantial constraints to guard against excessive concentration. The administration supported this FCC action and strongly opposes any attempt to overturn this rule by legislative means."

The statement concluded, "To disapprove this rule and require the federal government to reassert regulatory constraints on business decisions in a competitive media marketplace would exacerbate financial challenges facing newspapers and broadcast stations and, thus, not be in the public interest. Accordingly, if S.J. Res. 28 were presented to the president, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill."