House Panel Votes to Block 45% Rule


The House Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday to block the Federal
Communications Commission from implementing its new rule allowing a single
company to own television stations that reach up to 45% of households

During consideration of the bill that sets the FCC's 2004 budget, the panel
approved an amendment that would bar the agency from using its funds to issue
licenses to a company that wants to acquire TV stations that would allow it to
reach more than 35% of households.

The amendment -- sponsored by Rep. David Obey (Wis.), the top Democrat on the
spending committee -- was approved by a 40-25 vote. A total of 11 Republicans
joined all of the committee's 29 Democrats in voting for it.

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the committee chairman, voted against the
amendment and warned lawmakers that the House Republican leadership and the
White House would try to kill the provision.

The committee's vote came one day after a bipartisan group of senators, led
by Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.), introduced a "resolution of
disapproval" that would require the FCC to rework the media-ownership rules.

The senators said Tuesday that if their resolution fails, they would turn to
the appropriations process like their House colleagues to try to block the FCC
from implementing the rule.

States News Service