September 16, 2003

Senate Overturns FCC Ruling

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.

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Earle, Bragg, Morello Demand “Truth”

Political singer/songwriters Steve Earle and Billy Bragg will join ex-Rage Against The Machine/current Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello next month for the Tell Us the Truth tour. Timed to coincide with the start of the 2004 presidential race, the three-week tour of U.S. clubs is slated to kick off in early November. Due to scheduling conflicts, Earle won’t join the others until Nov. 11.
Before extending to the Northeast, the tour — which will also feature Lester Chambers of the Chambers Brothers — will dip into Florida in time for the forthcoming World Trade Organization meetings in Miami, Earle tells According to Earle, Morello, famed for his innovations and often unusual technique on the electric guitar, will be playing acoustic sets.
Earle says the tour is looking, quite simply, for more honesty and accountability from the mass media in their coverage of elections and the wars in Afghanistan and, especially, Iraq.

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Stephen King: Lifetime Achievement Honor

Stephen King, brand-name writer, master of the horror story and e-book pioneer, is receiving this year’s honorary National Book Award for lifetime achievement medal for Distinguished Contributions to American Letters. The prize, worth $10,000, was announced Monday by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization that sponsors the awards.
“This is probably the most exciting thing to happen to me in my career as a writer since the sale of my first book in 1973,” King said in a statement issued by the foundation.
“I’ll return the cash award to the National Book Foundation for the support of their many educational and literary outreach programs for children and youth across the country; the Medal I will keep and treasure for the rest of my life.”
King, who turns 56 next Sunday, will be presented the award at the annual National Book Awards ceremony, on November 19.

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