Dorgan renews vow to stop FCC rush to judgement

U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said Tuesday Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin's announcement of proposed new rules to ease media ownership is ill-advised and only adds urgency to his effort to pass legislation that would allow time for completion of a separate FCC proceeding on localism and for public input.

The text of Dorgan's statement follows:

TEXT OF STATEMENT by U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND)


"The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has put forward what I'm sure he regards as a reasonable compromise on the issue of media consolidation. He is specifically proposing to allow further concentration in the top 20 markets in the U.S., allowing the newspaper and a broadcast television station to be owned by the same company. But he has yet to make the case for why any further media consolidation is necessary. Indeed, he is relying on an assumption that newspapers are doomed and that cross-ownership is necessary to save them. I believe this is not the case. He has also failed to make the case that cross ownership will be beneficial to local communities -- that requires an understanding of how ownership affects local coverage.

"The FCC still has not completed a separate proceeding with a thorough study of the impact of media concentration on localism. In my view, that work is a necessary and a prerequisite to any discussion of whether media ownership rules ought to be changed.

"Senator Lott and I have introduced legislation that would address Chairman Martin's rush to judgment on this question. We believe it is important that the public is heard and that facts guide these decisions. The proposal from Chairman Martin today only adds a greater sense of urgency to our effort to enact our legislation."

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