should get knocked down by this

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    July 23 (Bloomberg) -- The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted 400-21 to block a new federal rule that lets television networks such as Viacom Inc.'s CBS and News Corp.'s Fox acquire more local stations.

    The vote pits the House against the Bush administration, which supports the Federal Communications Commission rule that was approved last month. The administration said yesterday it would consider its first presidential veto if the legislation passes the Senate. The Senate hasn't yet set a date for considering similar bills, which have bipartisan support.

    ``The House has now repudiated the FCC's attempted giveaway of the public airwaves to national media giants based in New York and Los Angeles,'' said Representative David Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat who sponsored the bill. ``I hope the administration is listening.''

    Groups including Consumers Union and the National Rifle Association oppose the rule, saying it would reduce local control and diversity in news and entertainment. FCC Chairman Michael Powell and media companies have said consolidation would help the networks fend off threats from cable and satellite television.

    It bars the FCC from implementing a rule that lets networks own stations reaching 45 percent of the U.S. viewing audience, up from a previous limit of 35 percent.

    The FCC rule, which was approved by a Republican majority led by Powell, would most directly benefit CBS and News Corp.'s Fox. Those networks have obtained FCC waivers letting them exceed the 35 percent limit.

    Powell said today that the FCC rules would let CBS and Fox acquire about half a percent of U.S. local stations.

    ``Our democracy is strong,'' Powell said. ``It is not threatened by half a percent. It would be irresponsible to ignore the diversity of viewpoints provided by cable, satellite and the Internet.''
 
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