U.S. Chamber Backs FCC on Ownership

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On the eve of a key test vote in the House, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is
throwing its support behind the Federal Communications Commission's new
broadcast-ownership rules that some on Capitol Hill are trying to overturn.

In a letter to House Appropriations Committee chairman C.W. "Bill" Young
(R-Fla.), the chamber recommended that all attempts to weaken the FCC's policies
should be rejected.

"The chamber believes concerns raised by proponents to change the
media-ownership rules are misplaced and ignore advances in technology,"
executive vice president R. Bruce Jostens said in a one-page letter sent July
14.

The chamber is one of Washington's most potent lobbying forces, representing
more than 3 million businesses around the country.

On Wednesday, Young's committee is expected to take up an amendment to the
FCC's new budget that would overturn the new ownership rules for at least one
year. Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) is expected to offer the amendment.

Under the new FCC rules, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox would be allowed to own more
stations, and newspapers and TV stations could merge in the same market for the
first time since 1975.

The media consolidation expected to occur under the rules has triggered a
bipartisan backlash in the Senate, although House Republicans have not abandoned
the GOP-controlled FCC to the same extent.

On Tuesday, Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Russ
Feingold (R-Wis.) introduced a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to
begin a process designed to nullify the FCC's rules.

At the FCC, the agency's two Democrats who dissented from the ruling --
Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein -- sent a letter to chairman Michael Powell
urging him to stay the rules in part to accommodate Capitol Hill lawmakers
working to overturn them.

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