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Business News (more headlines) 06-22-2003

Senate Commerce Committee Approves Media Ownership Cap Bill

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Washington, DC The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today approved by voice vote, S. 1046, the Preservation of Localism, Program Diversity, and Competition in Television Broadcast Service Act of 2003. Senator Stevens (R-AK) introduced the bill on May 13, 2003.

The bill restores the 35% national audience reach cap for broadcast television station ownership by establishing a statutory cap that supercedes the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) June 2, 2003 decision to raise the cap from 35% to 45% of the national audience share.

The Committee adopted the following amendments to S. 1046:

Two amendments by Senator McCain (R-AZ): 1. To clarify that the FCC can re-regulate as well as deregulate media ownership; and 2. To require divestiture of those radio stations that, applying the FCC's new definitions of market, exceed the ownership cap.

An amendment by Senators Dorgan (D-ND), Snowe (R-ME) and Hutchison (R-TX) to restore the cross-ownership rules changed by the Federal Communication Commission on June 2, 2003. This amendment was modified by a second-degree amendment offered by Senator Stevens, which would allow the FCC to waive these rules in the sixty smallest media markets under certain conditions.

An amendment by Senator Boxer (D-CA) to require the FCC to hold five geographically diverse public hearings when a media ownership review occurs.

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