"The clock is ticking. Call your senators now!"
That was the closing line used by the National Association of Broadcasters in
last Friday's "Broadcaster Alert" to all radio- and TV-station members as the
Senate moved toward voting to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's
new, deregulatory broadcast-ownership rules.
The NAB implored its members to oppose a resolution sponsored by Sen. Byron
Dorgan (D-N.D.) that would repeal the FCC's June 2 vote, which allowed ABC, CBS,
NBC and Fox to control more local TV stations and also allowed newspapers, TV
stations and radio stations to combine within their local markets.
The two-page alert urged all to call their senators and seek "a firm
commitment to vote no" on the Dorgan resolution. The NAB described the Dorgan
resolution as a "meat-ax approach to policymaking" and a "backward-thinking
On Monday, a Dorgan aide said the Senate would debate the resolution Tuesday
for one hour and stage a vote about 10:30 a.m. Debate began last week.
The NAB supported the FCC's decision to relax local cross-ownership rules but
opposed the decisions to allow the "Big Four" networks to grow larger, to
tighten some local radio-station-ownership rules and to ban mergers among the
top-four-rated TV stations in the smallest markets.
Despite its split view of the FCC decision, the NAB told members, "Reimposing
the previous ownership framework is not the solution."
Last week, Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who is supporting Dorgan, called the
NAB's position "a little bit schizophrenic."
An NAB spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of the