Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Thursday | July 24, 2003

House smacks Powell Jr. silly

In a stunning reversal of fortunes for Michael Powell's FCC and the nation's giant media conglomerates, the US House voted 400-21 to reverse that agency's relaxation of media ownership limits.

Existing rules prohibit any single company from owning television stations that reach more than 35 percent of the nation's households. The FCC had (among other rule changes) raised that limit to 45 percent.

However, a bipartisan alliance has spit on Bush's threat to protect the new FCC rules with a veto, and voted to reverse. The Senate will easily follow suit. It's not hard to see why.

On the Left, all we have to do is look at the corporate takeover of the nation's big media outlets, and the corresponding drowning of the progressive message (thanks to GE, Fox, Clear Channel Communications, etc.). On the Right, religious broadcasters and assorted wingnuts fear their access to the airwaves will be eliminated if forced to compete against deep-pocket media behemoths (PAX TV wouldn't last long in such an environment).

Defenders of the rule changes, as usual, make unintenionally hilarous arguments:

Mr. Powell and the networks have responded with the assertion that without some regulatory relief for the networks, free over-the-air television could be eliminated. The networks say that they need to find new ways to raise revenues to support expensive programming like the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl, and that owning more stations will give them the money to do so.
Programming like the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl are expensive, because that's what the networks bid. No one is forcing Fox and CBS to bid billions for NFL broadcast rights. No one is forcing NBC to pay hundreds of millions for the Olympics.

If they pay too much for their programming, that's their problem. Not ours. And for once, an industry has so overreached the bounds of normal decency that it transcends ideology. 400-21, to be specific.

Now will Bush really veto the measure? God I hope so. How about adding a veto override to his basket of woes?

Posted July 24, 2003 09:15 AM


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