For Immediate Release:
July 18, 2001

Contact: Andy Davis (202) 224-6654

 

Hollings Introduces Legislation to Slow Media Consolidation

Bill requires the FCC to consult Congress before
relaxing broadcast ownership rules

WASHINGTON, D.C. Last night, U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, introduced legislation to slow increasing levels of consolidation within the media industry. Senator Hollings has expressed continued concern that rapid consolidation has decreased competition in the media industry, reduced the diversity of sources for news and information, and threatened local control of broadcast decisions.

"The existing broadcast ownership rules have encouraged the growth of locally relevant, independent programmers and distributors of media content. These critically important, independent voices energize our civic discourse and help separate our nation from those that prohibit the free flow of information," said Senator Hollings. "We've come to a crossroads, and there are two paths we can take. One leads to further consolidation and an erosion of diversity in our local markets. The other provides for maintenance of rational ownership restrictions to allow local media outlets to retain some ability to control and disseminate locally relevant news and information, as well as programming that is uniquely suited to their particular community."

Under Sen. Hollings' legislation, media companies licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must notify the Commission when they acquire a print media outlet, which creates a cross-ownership conflict. The FCC is then directed to review the appropriateness of the acquisition and determine whether any action is needed to bring the licensee in compliance with the existing ownership rules.

Additionally, Hollings' legislation requires the FCC to report to the Senate and House Commerce Committees with any proposed rule changes that would relax or repeal existing media ownership limits. The report must include the FCC's explanation of how its rules changes will promote competition, diversity, and localism in the public interest. Any proposed changes could go into effect 18 months after the Committees receive the report.

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