The Republican-led U.S. Senate on Tuesday defied Bush administration opposition and voted to rescind new regulations allowing large media companies to grow even bigger.
The Senate approved, 55-40, a resolution that would roll back the Federal Communications Commission (news – web sites) rules allowing television networks to own more local stations and permitting conglomerates to own a newspaper, television stations and radio outlets in a single market.
The measure faces a tougher battle in the U.S. House of Representatives and a threat of a veto by President Bush if it reaches his desk.
The Republican-led FCC narrowly adopted the new rules in June, which would allow television networks to own local stations that collectively reach 45 percent of the national audience, up from 35 percent.
The new rules permit one company to own a newspaper, a television station and several radio stations in a single market, lifting a decades-old ban on cross-ownership. A company would also be permitted to own two local television stations in more local markets.
The regulations were drawn up under the leadership of FCC Chairman Michael Powell, who argued the relaxed limits were necessary to reflect the proliferation of cable, satellite television and the Internet offerings as well as preserve over-the-air broadcast television.
Television networks like Viacom Inc.’s CBS and News Corp.’s Fox contended they need to acquire more local stations to better compete against cable and satellite television services.
Critics, ranging from the National Rifle Association to Consumers Union as well as Democrats and Republicans in Congress, charged that the rules would narrow the choices of viewpoints and cut local news coverage.