Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., on Tuesday warned the Federal Communications Commission that Congress may try to block changes that would loosen media-ownership rules if the agency moves forward with the proposal.
During a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Democrat Mignon Clyburn’s nomination to serve a second term on the FCC, Cantwell and others voiced concern that the commission may adopt a proposal that would relax current media-ownership rules, including allowing companies to own newspapers and television stations in the same market.
“I feel very strongly that the commission may be heading toward a resolution of disapproval if it continues down this route,” Cantwell told Clyburn in voicing her opposition to efforts to loosen media-ownership rules.
Congress could block such a rule if both chambers were to adopt a resolution of disapproval under procedures outlined in the Congressional Review Act. The Senate approved such a resolution in 2008 after the commission adopted a similar proposal in 2007 under then-GOP Chairman Kevin Martin. Last year, an appeals court rejected those rules.
In a letter to the commission echoing her concerns, Cantwell said that the rules “were put in place and remained in place because they support diversity, competition, and localism in the public interest. FCC rules are supposed to serve the public interest. However, this proposed draft order appears to only serve the interest of large media companies that have made bad business decisions.”
In response to a question on the same issue from Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Clyburn did not comment directly on the proposal, but noted her background working for a weekly newspaper in South Carolina. She added that at her request, the commission has extended the comment period on the issue.
Boxer joined nine other senators in voicing concerns with the media-ownership proposal in a separate letter to the FCC last week.