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House Overturns FCC Media Consolidation Plan 348

son_of_a_general writes "Looks like the House of Representatives just overturned the FCC's media consolidation rules, previously covered on Slashdot here(1), here(2), and here(3). The article over at CNet shows that the House passed a bill that overturned the rules, by a 400 to 21 vote. All is not clear yet, however, as the bill still must pass through Senate and face being signed by a President who has already indicated that he may veto."
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House Overturns FCC Media Consolidation Plan

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  • The article says that they only rejected funding for FCC programs that allow consolidation of this type... a slight difference
    • Re:Well.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No it doesn't, appropriations bills can include policy for the entire commission. The FCC is barred, as a condition of it's funding, from violating the rule.
    • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by DarkZero ( 516460 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:27PM (#6517941)
      The article says that they only rejected funding for FCC programs that allow consolidation of this type... a slight difference

      "Rejected funding" is really just a code word for using a budget bill to eliminate something mostly unrelated to the allocation of specific amounts of government funds. The effect of this bill is that the FCC cannot spend even one dollar of government money to implement their plan, but rules that are already in place say that things like the FCC's plan cannot be privately funded. Therefore, they have $0 to implement the plan. Thus, the plan is void and will be replaced with whatever plan the funding has been allocated to (in this case, the old FCC rules before the recent change).

      It's the same effect as making a gun legal, but outlawing the specific ammo for it. Sure, you can legally own and use the gun, but if they've banned its ammo, then they've effectively banned the gun. If you're hellbent on owning a projectile weapon, then you'll have to buy whichever one you can legally buy ammunition for.

      And yes, as I'm sure you're thinking, politicians really DO play some damned stupid games. The mating rituals of various brightly colored birds and amphibians are simple and logical by comparison.
      • Re:Well.. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jon787 ( 512497 )
        Yes there are many ways the politicians can twist the arm of others to change rules. Just look at how they forced Montana to implement a speed limit on the interstate. They threatened to withhold money for repairing the roads.
  • it doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:12PM (#6517863) Homepage Journal
    It doesn't matter if the bastard vetos because congress can say screw you in a 2/3 majority, which they no doubt have. the senate is the real decision maker at this point as the house seems to already have its mind made up.

    Please, can the government make one good decision this year, please??? I mean sure, it's just a correction of a previous bad move, but it's something. Gotta set the expectation bar low to achieve satisfaction.
    • by DrWho520 ( 655973 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:15PM (#6517878) Journal
      Exactly. With a 400 to 21 vote in the House, Georgey Porgey would be an idiot to consider...oh, wait.

      Well, we will just have to see what the senate says.
    • by jnthnjng ( 678641 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:30PM (#6517955)
      I'm not sure that those 400 are all fully behind this vote however. I'm under the impression that many republicans voted for it so that they would look good, but that they expected that it could be taken out in later conference committee. So I'm not so sure it's as veto-proof as it looks
    • Re:it doesn't matter (Score:4, Interesting)

      by laigle ( 614390 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:50PM (#6518089)
      Which is why he won't veto if it gets to him. A veto override is a political catastrophe for a president. Plus in this case, if his evil FCC machinations went over so poorly that even his own party shut him down on the issue, he'd never hear the end of how he's bought and sold in the next election. Which he shouldn't anyways, but nobody has the brains or balls to make an issue of it.
      • Please. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by glrotate ( 300695 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:30PM (#6518305) Homepage
        Regardless of what your politics are, do you really think vetoing this would be a "political catastrophe"? You actually think there are people who are going to go into the voting booth in Nov 04 and say to themselves, "Gee I was going to vote for Bush, but after vetoing that media ownership bill over a year ago I'm just going to have to vote for Sharpton"

        Try to keep tinkgs in perspective.
        • Re:Please. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskett AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 24, 2003 @01:45AM (#6519049)
          No, but a Veto override shows three things:

          1. The President's whips at the capitol are not sharp enough to keep his people in line. This puts out the word that pressure from the White House isn't the be all end all. A veto-override literally opens to the door to other bills that normally would be DOA because of Veto-threat.

          2. The President's grip on Congress is weak, or non-existant. The President uses his bully position to get congress to do things. Everyone knows who the President is. But it takes weeks of concerted effort for Senators and especially Reps. to get a point across. POTUS is the most quoted person on the nightly news. But a veto override shifts this balance more towards Congresscritters.

          3. The President's advisors and calculators took a bad risk on something that should be straightforward. Few veto overrides are razor thin. This means that either the Administration is ignorant, arrogant, or capable of miscalculating remedial details. All of these things are bad, and are hammerred on by major media outlets.
      • by op51n ( 544058 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @11:19PM (#6518525)
        Yes, I partially agree with the other reply to this post, saying no one will put off voting for Bush for vetoing this bill, but on the other hand, that's not quite the point. If he does veto a bill, particularly one that has had such a heavy majority, the political backlash will be huge. By the time all the politicians have jumped on him for that, and the press have had their say on a President vetoing a bill, again with this kind of majority, it would have far more effect on the party than you may assume.
        Also, "A veto override is a political catastrophe for a President"... Yes, when has something being a political catastrophe had any sway in changing Bush's mind?

        I swear, that man scares me more than Reagan!
    • Re:it doesn't matter (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yohahn ( 8680 )
      Also, this dosen't overturn all the rules, if I understand correctly.

      The rules about owning newpapers and radio stations and whatnot still go away.

      Just the limits on station ownership go back.

      Have I understood this correctly?
    • Re:it doesn't matter (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 )
      The Senate vote is going to be the one that counts.

      The House can't overturn a Presidental Veto, the Senate can. However if the President decides to fight this if there strong anti-FCC feelings in the Senate it could get ugly for him.

      If the Senate can get 50-60 votes for the bill, the President would be wise to sit on his hands and just let it go, there are bigger fish to fry.
      • Re:it doesn't matter (Score:5, Informative)

        by friedo ( 112163 ) * on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:52PM (#6518409) Homepage

        The House can't overturn a Presidental Veto, the Senate can. However if the President decides to fight this if there strong anti-FCC feelings in the Senate it could get ugly for him.

        A veto override requires passage of the bill a second time by both houses of Congress, each with a 2/3 majority. See Article I, Section 7 of the US Constitution.
  • "May veto?" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by John Paul Jones ( 151355 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:14PM (#6517871)
    NPR sez he's promised to.... how can he justify that with such an overwhelming nay vote in the house?
  • Can't figure it out (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:15PM (#6517875)

    What I haven't quite figured out is -why- congress is so pissed. They were out for a piece of Powell during that hearing where he defended the decision.

    Lets face it- almost everything our politicians do now is either in the interests of business, stripping our rights, or pork-grabbing for votes come next election(some all of the above). This is, if I ever saw it, some seriously anti-corporate stuff. Is this a case of public opinion being strong enough that they thought they couldn't get away with going with the corporations? Has our house and senate been replaced by aliens? :-)


    • by DarkZero ( 516460 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:09PM (#6518202)
      Lets face it- almost everything our politicians do now is either in the interests of business, stripping our rights, or pork-grabbing for votes come next election(some all of the above). This is, if I ever saw it, some seriously anti-corporate stuff.

      Fortunately, this issue is one where the interests of politicians (their interest being themselves) and the general public (their interest also being themselves) intersect. With Fox News' rise to the top of the cable news ratings with a wide margin behind them, as well as an even wider one during events that interest the general public such as wars and terrorist attacks, left-leaning politicians have come to realize what many of their Republican colleagues figured out while the "Big 3" networks were at the top of the heap: a healthy variety of opinion in the media is a good thing, because it stops one side or another from having their character assassinated on a daily basis. One would logically assume that the right wing politicians would be in favor of greater media consolidation now that Fox News is in the lead, but years of left wing network TV media have convinced the older politicians that homogeneous media of ANY kind is a bad thing, so they're voting against consolidation, too.

      Savor it while it lasts...
    • by caitsith01 ( 606117 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:19PM (#6518261) Journal
      I think it might be because both sides are afraid of the other (or some third party) wielding too much power in the media.

      When you look at it there are large swathes of both sides of politics who would oppose this on principle. On the left, anyone with a serious civil liberties, free speech type agenda will surely be opposed to this. On the right, anyone with a small government/libertarian type agenda will naturally oppose the concentration of media power as contrary to their aims.

      It's really only the chumps in the middle - Bush with his corporate pals and neocons, Lieberman and the member of the New York/Washington set of big government Democrats - who are going to want to allow this.

      Is it possible that, just for once, this is a case of politics actually reflecting what people want irrespective of partisan allegiance? What's going to be really interesting is to see if Bush is game to use his veto, and if so if the house will vote again to overrule him. So far he has basically put the veto stamp away and signed anything that's been put in front of him... kinda like a trained monkey.... (ahem).
  • Vox Populi (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sshannon ( 636644 ) <> on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:15PM (#6517881) Homepage
    Even if this bill only rejects funding of the recent FCC decision, having such a lopsided vote will have to sway some lawmakers. Even if the Senate is a more deliberative body than the house, with this much opposition in the House, I'm fairly certain that the Senate would pass this with at least 67 affirmative votes, overriding the threat of a presidential veto.

    The only way I could see this getting messed up is if the language gets neutered in a compromise bill, though, so we're still going to have to speak out to our local Representatives and Senators to let them know what we think. And with any luck, they might even listen.
  • Small Point (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Due to cable and satellite, 87% of the nation wasn't covered by the rules as they stood. Prohibition for the sake of prohibition is not only fruitless, it's anti-consumer.

    Please, feel free to flame, but it's the truth. The rules only hindered business and were not 'protecting' anyone.
    • Re:Small Point (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xabraxas ( 654195 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:36PM (#6517993)
      The rules only hindered business and were not 'protecting' anyone.

      I'd have to disagree. Allowing huge media conglomerates to own more media outlets is not a good thing. The media has been, from the beginning of this country, the watchdog of government. It's changed, for the worse, into more of a cheerleading outfit these days and that's not a good thing and consolidation can only make it worse by allowing for less diversity and less opposing opinions. The media is supposed to keep the public informed and keep the government in check but that is less likely to happen with local issues and opposing views when the media becomes more national and less diverse. This is bound to happen when a small number of corporations own most of the media outlets across the country.

      The media as a watchdog is much more important than the media as a business.

      • Re:Small Point (Score:2, Insightful)

        by archen ( 447353 )
        It's changed, for the worse, into more of a cheerleading outfit these days . . .

        I think that inferrs that the media and the goverment are in alignment. I don't think that's so much true as the fact that both of them have basically turned into ratings whores - The media for ratings, the goverment for votes - neither caring for the actual welfare of the people.

        The media as a watchdog is much more important than the media as a business.

        Sort of applies to the goverment as well (assuming a positive sen
  • by GMFTatsujin ( 239569 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:16PM (#6517886) Homepage
    From CNet: Powell and his allies at the FCC have offered two major justifications for relaxing ownership restrictions.

    At the time of last month's vote, Powell said the United States needs "modern rules that take into account the explosion of new media outlets" and are not tied to a "bygone black-and-white era." Technology offers a wealth of media alternatives--such as the Internet, 802.11 wireless networks, XM and Sirius satellite radio, DirecTV, hundreds of cable channels, low-power FM radio--that were not available a generation ago, the argument goes.

    While it's true that these options may (or may not) have existed a generation ago, it is my considered opinion that most of them are on the fringe, expensive to break into and maintain, and have yet to prove themselves viable. Why should big-biz media interests be allowed to further control the media that is already established and has a wide audience, while the independent interests would be force to assume take all the risk to develop new channels? Especially when those new channels would probably get swept up (by another FCC gazelle-style roll over) by the big-biz outlets once they were established as viable?

    Go House. I'm surprizingly proud.
    • by revscat ( 35618 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:25PM (#6518283) Journal

      While it's true that these options may (or may not) have existed a generation ago, it is my considered opinion that most of them are on the fringe, expensive to break into and maintain, and have yet to prove themselves viable.

      I agree. So far as I can tell, the only independent news organization on the web is Salon, and it has barely been able to survive, let alone prosper enough to buy other organizations. Every other news site with original content is just an extension of some other, offline version: newspapers, cable news channels, etc.

      In short, Powell's argument that there are more choices today rings hollow. The Internet has much to be said for it, but levelling the playing field of the media isn't something it has been able to accomplish.

    • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) * on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:25PM (#6518285)
      >While it's true that these options may (or may not) have existed a generation ago, it is my considered opinion that most of them are on the fringe, expensive to break into and maintai

      Exactly. I recently exposed a non-techie friend to the downsides of media deregulation and his GOP sentator sent him the same talking points memo you quoted. Essentially, he wrote that "new technology" is a new playing field that satisfies the lassiez-faire dream. Err, no its not. How difficult, if not impossible, is it to get my local community or even the metropolitan area's issues on DirecTv? Pretty hard I'd say. Just to get the already established broadcast stations I have to pay an extra rebroadcasting fee.

      Compare these entrenched wealthy networks to community radio or the UHF channels of old and I clearly would take the position that new technology and consolidation has made television worse off in regards to "media alternatives."

      I really take an issue with the "hundreds of cable" channels line, like they're suggesting there can't be much of a barrier to entry because "hundreds" is such a big number. In real life this means established channels get more bandwidth so instead on one HBO we get six. Instead of one MTV we get two, etc. Worse, televangelist hate-speech gets more channels while less profitable religions (or less profit driven) get no exposure at all.

      Also, treating the media like any other product is ignoring its powerful influencial messages and how most people interact (for the lack of a better term) with politics.
  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chrisgeleven ( 514645 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:18PM (#6517893) Homepage
    400-21? That is 95% of the House voting for this bill, way over the 2/3rds needed to overturn a veto. We just gotta get the Senate to pass this with over a 2/3 vote (67 out of 100 votes should do it I think if my math is right) then the President has a PR problem on his hand (like he needs another one). If he veto's it, then it will get passed anyways most likely and if he votes for it then he changed his mind which will piss off his ClearChannel donors.
  • Amusing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chalst ( 57653 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:19PM (#6517897) Homepage Journal
    It's amusing how the right-wing believes there to be a systematic left-wing bias in the media, and the left-wing believes that the mainstream media distort the news to serve the oligarchical interests of the giant corporations, ie. systematic right-wing bias. I guess that's why the left and right can unite so easily on this issue.

    I recommend Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media [] as a resource (from a left-wing perspective) on media bias: it's not the whole truth, but it's probably the best thing written on the subject.

    • Re:Amusing (Score:3, Funny)

      by Valar ( 167606 )
      What the media really wants is the ability to broadcast through my tinfoil hat. I'm just going to get upgrading though, to stay one step ahead of the man.
    • Re:Amusing (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The best quote I heard recently was from someone who said, "Liberals don't need a Rush Limbaugh. They have Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and virtually everyone else in major journalism."


      Can they seriously be deluded enough to think that the benign anchor Tom Brokaw could possibly be to me as Rush Limbaugh is to them? What channel are they watching? Do they honestly think people are leaving messages on Brokaw's answering machine that say:

      "Mega-dittoes, Tom! I laughed so hard last night at that imitation
    • Re:Amusing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CashCarSTAR ( 548853 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:46PM (#6518056)
      Actually there is a systematic bias in the media. It's hard to pick up on, but if you watch it a lot, you can pick it up.

      It's simple. The bias is their POLITICAL neutrality. How can neutrality be a bias? Quite simple. That neutrality rewards the extremists and punishes the moderates. Those that are willing to go to extremes find that their ideas and arguments are given equal credence to a moderate idea. Even if all the facts and fingures go against it. Must keep the neutrality!

      Put that on top of that these sources are looking for viewers, so information gets pushed down, and entertainment gets pushed up. Meaning that the nuances of tax bills and foreign policy go pretty much unnoticed.

      What we want is reality neutral. If something is BS..say it. Give the facts, and let us decide from that. Don't cover up facts in order to give the impression of political neutrality.

      • Re:Amusing (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:51PM (#6518402)
        Although I agree that the news tries to appear neutral, I disagree that it rewards all extremests.

        For example, back when the majority of people in the United States supported slavery, you'd see opinions that were slightly more in favor and slightly less in favor but anyone who came out with the view that slavery was utterly unacceptable was viewed as too extreme and disregarded. So it was only the pro-slavery extremests that were rewarded

        In the present day, you see opinions that are slightly in favor of US foreign policies and opinons that are slightly opposed to US foreign policies but the view that pre-emptive invasion is utterly unacceptable, for example, is viewed as too extreme and disregarded. So it is only the pro-preemptive-invasion extremests that are rewarded.

        In general, the media is not a good indicator of whether a view is extreme but only whether a view is popular.

    • Well, the fact is that the left-wing tends to say that the media is all right-wingers ("Look! Fox News! See! It's BIASED. I TOLD YOU."). The right-wing (including me, FWIW) looks at the media and says it's all left-biased ("Look! It's ABC, and CBS, and NBC! WE TOLD YOU THERE WAS BIAS").

      The fact is the media is NOT giving us the straight story. Some outlets are biased one way and some the other. Whichever side is talking tends to ignore bias in their favor, and point out the bias against them.

      The problem i

    • Re:Amusing (Score:3, Insightful)

      by csguy314 ( 559705 )
      on media bias: it's not the whole truth, but it's probably the best thing written on the subject.

      If you want a real analysis on bias of Western (read American) media, read Manufacturing Consent [].
    • The American Soc. Of Newspaper editors [] did a survey of 1037 reporters. 61% identified themselves as liberal 15% as conservative, that's 4:1.

      In 1995 Kenneth Walsh, a reporter for U.S. News & World Report surveyed his fellow white house correspondants on who they voted for. 50 voted D 7 voted R. 7:1.
    • Re:Amusing (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zenyu ( 248067 )
      It's amusing how the right-wing believes there to be a systematic left-wing bias in the media, and the left-wing believes that the mainstream media distort the news to serve the oligarchical interests of the giant corporations, ie. systematic right-wing bias. I guess that's why the left and right can unite so easily on this issue.

      The bias isn't for left or right, it's against reporting. Reporting is a waste of resources from their point of view. If they all spent some money on discovering the truths and t
  • What??? (Score:2, Funny)

    by BigDork1001 ( 683341 )
    You mean to be telling me that my government might be doing something good? The US government? I dunno, I think there may be a mistake somewhere.

    • Re:What??? (Score:3, Funny)

      by retto ( 668183 )

      You mean to be telling me that my government might be doing something good?


      The House is just saying that maybe the government is wrong in screwing Americans over as much as they were going to, and are trying to revert back to the more gentle screwing you were getting earlier.

      A decrease in bad is not the same as an increase in good.

  • by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:21PM (#6517909)
    From his biography site. []

    Mr. Powell previously served as the Chief of Staff of the Antitrust Division in the Department of Justice. In that capacity, he advised the Assistant Attorney General on substantive antitrust matters, including policy development, criminal and civil investigations and mergers. Prior to joining the Antitrust Division, Mr. Powell was an associate in the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm of O'Melveny & Myers LLP, where he focused on litigation and regulatory matters involving telecommunications, antitrust and employment law.

    This is the guy who is saying that it's perfectly OK for a small number of companies to gobble up even more media outlets.

    I don't think Mr Powell has learned very much about antitrust.

  • . . . I nearly believed it. By an amazing coincidence the Australian Senate will soon vote on cross-media ownership laws. This will be the death of independent media over here. Rupert Murdoch is poised to take over the Fairfax papers, which are the only media outlet critical of the current government.
    • What about the A B friggin C?

      Independent government-funded media.
    • In fact, we're much more screwed in Australia than the Americans are if they allow media concentration. Things are very different for us - the USA is such a huge market that even minority viewpoints can swing a huge audience, and therefore will not be totally eliminated, even from the mainstream.

      In Oz, on the other hand, we have a small population - most of our cities only support one newspaper, and we really have only one national paper. On top of this we have ridiculous limits on the number of TV and rad
  • Goes against the UD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by csguy314 ( 559705 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:29PM (#6517951) Homepage
    There is pretty much a concensus that the consolidation of corporate media, and the corporatization of media in general goes against Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    When all media is controlled by large corporations, it really precludes any involvement of the general populace.
    • And so it's more free if it's controlled by the government?

      The UD is utopian crap which shouldn't really enter into any discussion of politics in the United States.

      And here, you can always publish your missive. John Peter Zenger. Google for it, you might learn something.
      • The UD is utopian crap which shouldn't really enter into any discussion of politics in the United States.

        The former US ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, agrees with you. She described articles of the UD as "a letter to Santa Claus".
        Incidentally, the US did not accept the Declrations on the Right to Development, or the Rights of the Child.
        The US and Somalia were the only countries not to accept the Declaration on the Rights of the Child (Somalia lacking a real government and being run by warlords).
        • The problem with these declarations, and many of the "rights" which have developed are that they are enslaving. If you have a "right" to a job, and I have to provide it for you, I am your slave. If, in this case, you have the "right" to any form of access to media, and I have to provide it for you....

          Rights are only rights inasmuch as they don't require an action by another in order to be exercised. There is nothing in this law that prevents you, legally, from owning a broadcast outlet. Go buy one if
      • And so it's more free if it's controlled by the government?

        Who the fuck said anything about government control? We're talking about placing ownership limits. That's it. If you own media outlets, you are limited in what you can own. Limits. On. Ownership. No government ownership. No "socialization" of the media. Lim. Its.

        The UD is utopian crap which shouldn't really enter into any discussion of politics in the United States.

        Really. I find it fascinating that you think that a topic shouldn't enter int

        • We're talking about placing ownership limits. That's it. If you own media outlets, you are limited in what you can own. Limits. On. Ownership. No government ownership. No "socialization" of the media. Lim. Its.

          Did you bother to read the OP? If corporations/individuals do not own the media outlets, governments are the only other possible owners.

          I find it fascinating that you think that a topic shouldn't enter into a dicussion based on geography. So should it be discussed in Canada? Peru? Bangladesh, per
    • When all media is controlled by large corporations, it really precludes any involvement of the general populace.

      maybe if your a def mute who never leaves the house and your only source of "media" is the television. this is the communication age, information travels thru so many different facets so many different ways we could lose television altogether and be just fine.
  • Rights Shmights (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <> on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:35PM (#6517982) Journal
    Take a look at the bill and its amendments if you are truly worried about your freedom.

    If you live in a state that is even considering legalizing the medical use of marijuana, your state's federal funding may be axed.

    An amendment that would prohibit unlawful search and seizure of personal data between government agencies pertaining to records of suspected terrorists was struck down.

    And finally Sheila Jackson Lee's amendments were unanimously voted down (hooray).

    This FCC crap is the least of your worries.
    • Re:Rights Shmights (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Xabraxas ( 654195 )
      This FCC crap is the least of your worries.

      Not necessarily. If it wasn't for diverse and independent media we might not even hear of some of these things that you mention. I believe the consolidation of media is a very important issue. We need to worry about this because it will affect all of us.

  • by ChimChim ( 54048 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:36PM (#6517996) Homepage
    or is anyone else wondering if the real reason many lawmakers voted for this bill was to prevent a single corporation from being able to control the politicians' access to tv ad space? The result is the same, so I guess i'm not really complaining. But it would be great to see if lawmakers were taking media conglomeration into more serious consideration than their own ad space.
    • In commissioner Copp's dissent [], he claimed that all the people (citizens) he talked to, not one was for more media consolidation. It could simply be the democratic processes at work: do what your constituents want, and get reelected.

    • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @11:29PM (#6518567)
      The Republicans plan to pull this wording out of the bill during the committee process when bills are reconciled with the Senate wording.

      In the report on CNN [] they mention that Republicans are going around seeking member's signatures on a pledge to vote to sustain a veto. Since it requires a super majority(2/3rds) to override a veto, they only need 145 votes to defeat this measure.

      This was a political game and it's largely symbolic, Republicans vote to support this so when they go back to their constituents they can't be attacked. Then the ones who are in solid seats with no reasonable opposition can vote against it to override the veto.

      If you want to make sure that doesn't happen, write your congress critter and let them know how you feel and make it clear you'll be mad enough to start a grassroots campaign against them if they vote against this.
  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:36PM (#6517997) Homepage
    Why would the president veto this? It's in the best interest of the citizenry. I propose a new law:

    Any politician that takes more than a certain amount of campaign contributions (say, both an absolute threshhold of $10K and a certain percentage of their total fundraising) from a corporation (including individiuals that work for that corporation) or organization has to wear a sticker, clearly visible both from the front and the back, with the logo of the company or organization on it whenever they are in public in an official capacity. Think of those stickers pasted all over racing cars.

    I wonder how many stickers Bush would have.
    • Don't forget contributions from corrupt, mob-controlled unions. All our reps would be coated head-to-foot in stickers then. Or are you one of those people who labors under the pathetic delusion that unions are interested in and represent the rights of workers?
      • by gaijin99 ( 143693 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:47PM (#6518386) Journal
        Or are you one of those people who labors under the pathetic delusion that unions are interested in and represent the rights of workers?

        Nope, I'm one of those pathetic people who actually studied history and learned how bad it was before unions formed.

        Are unions perfect? Absolutely not. They can, and must, be improved. However a bad union is infinitely superior to no union.

        Go read up on what life was like pre-union. It sucked damn hard. The Rockerfellers of the world were able to pretty much do what they wanted to and no one could stop them. Unions are the only thing that has a proven track record of putting a check on corporate power. Come up with a better idea and I'll back it, but unless you can I'll keep trying to improve unions, not destroy them.

        I will definately agree that *some*, not all, unions have been failing in their primary duty to serve their members. This can be corrected fairly simply through regulation and oversight, it is not necessary to dismantle unions in general.

        My main argument in favor of unions is simple: Where I live (Texas) unions don't have much clout, and wages here are around 20%-30% lower than they are in the average union state. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

    • by Surak ( 18578 ) * <> on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @11:06PM (#6518467) Homepage Journal
      You're forgetting PACs. That's one of the main problems -- so-called "soft money."

      Let's say Microsoft, AOL, and Disney want to push digital rights management (DRM) as a political measure -- forcing all computers, old and new, in the United States to be DRM-enabled at the hardware level. So they form a political action committee -- a PAC, say called the MAD DRM PAC.

      Now they wanna donate $100,000 to say...Bush. So instead, they each pump ~$33,300 into MAD DRM PAC, and then MAD DRM PAC donates that money (~$100,000) to Bush's campaign. Now that money didn't come from Microsoft, AOL or Disney, it came from MAD DRM PAC.which "decided" to donate that money to Bush.

      So Bush wouldn't have to wear the MS logo, the AOL logo or the Disney logo because he didn't receive a DIME from those companies, he recieved all his money from MAD DRM PAC, which is a non-profit organization.

      Your understanding of political campaign fundraising issues is somewhat limited. No offense. :)

  • by dark-br ( 473115 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:46PM (#6518062) Homepage
    The FCC has already decided that it will allow companies to own much more than they can now. The FCC director stated that this oh so important decision does not need any debate. He tried to shut down the debate by refusing to fund town meetings around the country debating this and informing the general public. He has definitely been bought by the likes of Clear Channel. This will further erode democracy in this country, and if you now hate DMCA and its ilk, wait until the next pass. Laws like DMCA and PATRIOT 2 get passed because there is a lack of healthy debate. It has been shown time and time again that Clear Channel refuses to report on such items. If you don't believe me, when was this particular debate even mentioned on any of Clear Channel's stations? The only time that I saw this reported was on a PBS program called "NOW with Bill Moyers". This was an excellent program that tried to look at the issue from all sides. You can find an in-depth discussion here [] Little by little our rights are being taken away from us. Just look at all of the recent laws implemented, DMCA, copyrights, PATRIOT act etc.

    We need to act now, before the decision has been rendered. Once it has, there is very little chance of getting it changed. What's at stake is the very nature of democracy in this country. There is no way to rectify this if a bad decision is made. How do we rectify this in 10 years from now, once Clear Channel has bought up the few remaining independent stations? Do we really expect that at that point, a healthy debate about breaking up Clear Channel will be allowed by Clear Channel?

    Clear Channel says it needs to be allowed to buy the remaining independent stations in order to become profitable. If they haven't become profitable at this size, what makes us believe that will become profitable when they have taken over the rest? Lets face it folks, these guys are lying to us saying that they are not profitable. They are quite profitable now, and what's really driving this is pure greed at the expense of this country's core values. They are destroying this country at the expense of a few bucks. Enough is enough.

    • I was waiting for this kind of comment. I work in radio, and not for Clear Channel. I don't like what they've done to radio in many respects. But what you're saying is nonsense. I've heard hosts [] on [] Clear Channel stations [] talk about Patriot 2. The reason DMCA doesn't get alot of press is because it's hard for most people to comprehend at first. It's not an easy talk radio subject, like say, abortion or the death penalty.

      Clear Channel's profitibility is suspect. Why? I'm not quite sure. But their so
      • Clear Channel's profitibility is suspect. Why? I'm not quite sure.

        I am. Executive compensation packages. They're what is killing our wages and lots of companies. They're the reason why stockholders have been suing various corporations (Judge Group, Disney, etc) lately. If Clear Channel fired its CEO (L. Lowry Mays) his reward for being fired would amount to $28 million, not counting stock benefits. (source: CNN Money)

        Multiply that by all the upper level executives and you see the problem. They parasit

  • by Funksaw ( 636954 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:47PM (#6518068)
    Here's what I'd like to know: It overturns the 45% rule, but does it still prohibit cross-ownership of TV and newspapers? That would be the major problem... as much as I have a problem with the Gannett chain, they're still a newspaper company, run by newsmen who primarily report the news... while TV is increasingly run by entertainment companies run by entertainment moguls who turn the news into 'infotainment.' -- Funksaw
    • Yes, iirc, the new rules do relax that kind of thing. Gannett, NYTimes, Tribune Co., etc. If memory serves, it doesn't allow a company to own as many broadcast stations if they've got a paper than if they didn't, but it relaxes it. In smaller markets, this wasn't much of an issue until a few years ago, when the big papers bought out local dailies. In the big cities (Milwaukee and Chicago come immediately to mind), there was a grandfather clause.
  • Go ahead Bush...

    Bring it...

    This bill gets vetoed, it's over for Bush. Easy as that.

  • ... of the US government cowering to corperate america. When are they going to start to realize that this country relies on its citizens and not the elietest upperclass business men. When is it that "We the people.." will mean everyone. I'm sick of these shot from the hip laws that make the common man even less of a man because of the corperate chains that keep us in slavery!!!

    What? They overturned a decision like that, shit. Well keep going, nothing to see here.

  • If we allow the media to go the way we allowed civilian airliner manufacturing to go, we'll have one manufacturere in about ten years in the US. Competition is essential for a free market to work. When you see price gouging and the like it isn't it's a lot like a system crash due to bad sysadmin work. The system is only as good as the maintainer.

    Good work congress. now do the same yeoman's job on ip laws and turn the clock back to say 1780.
  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:55PM (#6518113)
    If the voting was so incredibly biased, as 400-21 shows, and if the Senate has similarly significant differences with their vote, it would be foolish to veto this. The population is against the media consolidation, and our representatives seem to actually get it, so I hope that the President isn't going to be dumb and try to stop it. He's already unpopular enough...
  • Why is this bad? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jonwil ( 467024 )
    Why is allowing one company to own both a TV station and a newspaper in one location bad. There is almost certainly going to be another TV station and another newspaper available in the area that you can switch to. I think that changing the rules to basicly say "no one company may own more than one of a particular media type (TV, radio, newspaper) in a particular area" would be the ideal way to go. It would stop any one company from owning all the media in one area and would also force companies that alread
  • North Dakota... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Myuu ( 529245 ) <> on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:01PM (#6518145) Homepage
    This place is the weird place politically, we are openly and obviously Republican, yet the majory of our 3 reps are Democrats (prob. cause ag and ss). There are so many Christian laws here too, like most businesses cant open before 12 on Sun.

    Yet, every once and a while, there is a suprise, like Dorgan (i think it was) spearheading this effort (read his debate with the head of Fox). And the public shooting down the effort to allow banks for sell personal info (Big Corps advertised like every commercial break in support of the bill).

    Anyway, I reelecting Dorgan (well what theres no green party here :P ).
  • but Michael Powell represents a lot of things I find wrong with politics and I believe he is an example of a non-elected official who quietly erodes my rights....

    therefore, I would like him to be head about the head, neck and breast area several times.

    I can't wait for him to retire and wait for his daddy to arrange for his next job. Who knows...we may find him on the Supreme Court soon.

  • If the prez vetoes, he will be such an asshole. He already is, to an extant. I still think that we're better off with him than we would ever have been with Gore, but I digress. It's not like we had much of a choice anyways.

    I already feel some amount of shame for voting for him, but I will completely shamed if he vetoes. I really would like this bill to pass. I really hope that the pres listens to the majority of the population in this one, considering he has to put his job on the line in a year and a

  • If I'm getting this right, they voted by to reverse the decision to not disallow consolidation. Or did they vote to overturn the reversal of the decision to not disallow consolidation? The president might veto, which would overturn the vote to reverse the decision to not disallow consolidation. Or (if I have it backwards), it would reverse the overturning of the reversal of the decision to not disallow consolidation. The vote passed by a large margin which, of course, leads to the question of a veto ove
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:50PM (#6518396)
    They can stip us of our rights and throw us in prison for downloading some files, but when our cable bill is in danger of going up, by God our Congress acts!
  • by caitsith01 ( 606117 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:51PM (#6518405) Journal
    Can be found here. []

    This is an article about the US media fawning over private Lynch despite the fact that she was injured by US military incompetence, not Iraqis, that she was captured without a fight, not firing her weapon valiantly to the end, that the US met no resistence in the hospital during her rescue and actually fired on a doctor trying to bring her out and hand her over.

    Luckily for the rest of the world the actual facts have not been totally obscured because non-US media outlets have managed to get hold of the story... but the fewer outlets there are, the less would actually be known about this. As it is it sounds like half of America is still swallowing the 'enhanced' story whole... must be the same half that thinks Iraq used chemical weapons in the war and that the September 11 attacks were linked to Iraq.

    In fact, when you look at it the media is already basically concentrated by virtue of the fact that it is ideologically concentrated. Once an 'accepted' version of a story is selected by someone, it becomes gospel and is repeated throughout the land.
    • It's not a problem with media consolidation. It's plainly a problem with the press's inability to function without government insider leaks.

      If the news source goes too far with their reporting, the leaks stop and they end up with far less news. So the military sets up Lynch as a war hero to give the troops and public something good to focus on at a time that the military campaign was in the doldrums, the press is going to print that story as told because it would cost the reporter, station, and network t
    • That article you link to is quoting from news stories that were long ago proven as complete fabrications. I'll be you believe the U.S. troops involved in the rescuse used blanks in their weapons, too.
  • Just about what you would expect from these two parties...... Could be that the law is not all that bad if both these parties are both against it. HAVE I GONE OUT OF MY MIND? this bill is an MSNBC dream come true, about as sensible as telco re-regulation or mandatory consolidation of ISPs. Although I never thought the NRA would ever go against a Microsoft sponsored bill.

    "Since the FCC's vote June 2, criticism of the commission's decision had grown from the left and right of the conventional political spec

  • The Harsh Reality (Score:3, Informative)

    by Percy_Blakeney ( 542178 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @11:41PM (#6518586) Homepage
    Perhaps nobody here understands the primary motivation behind Powell's rule changes. If you will all read the February 19, 2003 ruling by the U.S. District Court of Appeals for D.C. [], you will actually be able to make informed comments on the situation.

    This 2002 ruling criticized the FCC for the "arbitrary and capricious" 35% national ownership cap and told the FCC to reconsider it. Though he probably enjoyed doing it, Powell thus had very little choice in the matter of changing the cap, despite what everyone likes to believe. In fact, he has referred to this fact over [] and over [] again.

    It may be possible to justify the 35% cap somehow. The judge did not destroy the cap, he basically just vacated it. On the other hand, he did wipe out the cable-broadcast cross-ownership rule completely because he didn't think that it could be justified. The same logic is easily applied to the other major part of the June 2003 rule changes: newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership. There is no point in arguing that point of the rules, as the Judicial Branch would throw it out the window immediately.

    So, if you are all looking for someone to verbally crucify, look towards the judicial bench that prompted this rather than the FCC.

  • major clarification (Score:5, Informative)

    by diymedia ( 692018 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @03:20AM (#6519332) Homepage
    The House vote ONLY rolls back the national TV station ownership cap to its pre-June 2 limit (stations that reach a maximum 35% of the national audience). Everything else [] was left untouched by the House vote.

    Much of this is froufrou. While I take some sort of glee in the fact that the *partial* rollback measure was attached as a "rider" to a spending bill - just like how Congress screwed LPFM back in 2000 - similar legislation must still be passed by the Senate, and then survive a conference committee, a veto, AND an override, in order to actually happen.

    Symbolically, this is a very good thing (as well as being somewhat historic in a political sense), but in the real world it will likely get axed in the dead of night by the real string-pullers in Congress, and what the FCC did will stay in place.

    That is why just ignoring the FCC to begin with makes for more fun. (viva microradio!)

    Seriously tho, if you want the scoop on the politics you can get near-daily updates from media reform lobbyists working the Hill []. I don't know if they keep archives of their reports, but I do remember seeing that more than this rider was in play at one time. One other proposed amendment (sunk before getting to the floor, I believe) would've rolled back most if not all of the FCC's changes, but the one that made the cut was the weakest of the bunch.

  • My Prediction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by divide overflow ( 599608 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @04:57AM (#6519600)
    I predict that Bush won't veto the bill. Congress has been getting enormous pressure from its constituents to overturn the recent FCC decision. I'm pretty sure the bill will also be passed by the Senate. If Bush then vetoes the bill he'll be putting members of his own party in a difficult position and risk giving his opposition another issue on which he can be attacked in the next election.

    Rather than do that he'll probably back off on his threat to veto the bill, sacrifice the current FCC Chairman Michael Powell, have the next Chairman sabotage the enforcement mechanisms via administrative fiat and creative legislative re-interpretation. And then he'll vow to Big Media to make a full-court press to reinstate the changes...after his re-election.

"Freedom is still the most radical idea of all." -- Nathaniel Branden