Teleco legislation passes the House

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The U.S. House today passed a historic rewrite of the Communications Act of 1934 by a vote of 305-117, calling for stricter limits on how many media outlets a corporation can own as well as easing the ability of regional Bell companies to enter the long-distance business. An amendment barring any single media company from owning TV stations reaching more than 35% of all U.S. viewers was also passed. Additionally, Rep. Ed Markey, (D., Mass.) secured a second victory over the networks on the v-chip, which mandates TV sets contain violence-blocking chips and encourages the networks to rate their programs for violence and sex. Earlier in the day, the House passed a bill ensuring that ``heavy-handed federal regulation will not inhibit the development of the Internet and online services.'' The matter now goes to a conference committee, as the Senate passed a more conservative version of telecommunications reform legislation June 15. Separately, the Big 4 TV networks earlier last week created a $2 million fund to spur development and production of devices to enable parents to limit viewing of individual programs or entire channels.

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