HOUSE VOTE ROLLS BACK FCC MEDIA RULE

Returns TV Household Reach to 35%; Senate to Vote Next

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The House of Representatives today passed an appropriations bill by a vote of 400-21 that included language that rejects a major provision of the new Federal Communications Commission's media ownership rules.

The appropriations bill, which covers the Commerce, Justice and State departments, provides funding for the FCC. The spending measure blocks an FCC decision to allow media companies to own TV stations that reach 45% of the nation's viewers, up from the previous cut off of 35%.

Senate bill is next
The legislative battle now goes

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to the Senate, where the Senate Commerce Committee has recommended provisions that further to roll back the FCC's regulatory plan in its version of the appropriations measure.

Critics of the FCC plan have argued it would increase consolidation by large media companies while killing competition and diversity in local markets.

Despite today's House action, there remains considerable legislative action ahead before it will be clear exactly what will happen to the broadcast ownership rule.

Presidential veto expected
The Office of Management and Budget has said it would recommend the president veto the appropriation's bill if the provision stays in the legislation.

The FCC adopted the new rules last month in a 3-2 vote along party lines. The commission's chairman, Michael Powell, issued a statement today defending the new ownership rule.

"The FCC based its judgments on evidence that the new rules would benefit Americans," he said.

FCC: Marketplace realities
"We are confident in our decision," he said. "We created enforceable rules that reflect the realities of today's media marketplace. The rules will benefit Americans by protecting localism, competition and diversity."

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