Two powerful House members are calling on lawmakers that fund federal
agencies to refrain funding the Federal Communications Commission in a manner
that would overturn new broadcast-ownership rules adopted in June.
The warning was issued in a July 8 letter from House Energy and Commerce
Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman
of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, to House
Appropriations Committee chairman C.W. "Bill" Young (R-Fla.) and other leaders
on the panel.
Tauzin and Upton head authorizing committees, and those panels have
traditionally resisted when appropriators use their power of the purse to make
policy -- in this case, denying the FCC the right to use taxpayer money to
implement its new broadcast-ownership rules for one year.
"For Congress to attempt to unravel these rules in the appropriations process
-- as some of our colleagues are want to do -- would be a dreadful mistake and a
wretched jurisdictional precedent for all standing committees of the House of
Representatives," the letter said. "Such complex and important policy decisions,
such as the ones at issue here, should not be made by riders to appropriations
According to broadcasting sources, the Appropriations Committee is scheduled
to vote Wednesday on the FCC budget.
Last week, the National Association of Broadcasters announced that it would
oppose any legislation designed to overturn the FCC's new rules, even though the
trade group initially supported a bill that would have limited TV-station
ownership by the "Big Four" networks. The NAB dropped out after the Senate
version of the bill was amended to include provisions gutting FCC moves that the
Tauzin and Upton support the FCC's deregulatory moves, denying requests for a
hearing on a bill that would restore to 35% the number of TV households a
broadcast-station group may reach nationally.
"The commission promulgated a reasonable set of carefully crafted and
interrelated media-ownership rules. We believe strongly that they accurately
reflect the dynamic nature of today's media marketplace, are based upon sound
factual and legal analysis and protect the fundamental and cherished values of
localism, diversity and competition," Tauzin and Upton wrote.