News Releases

Statement by Sen. Patty Murray in Support of the Senate Resolution Regarding Media Ownership

Sep 16 2003

Delivered on the Senate Floor Tuesday, September 16th

Mr. President, like many Americans I was disappointed by the Federal Communications Commission’s order on June 2nd to relax the rules on media ownership.

The order could reduce local news coverage and could hinder the diversity of views presented in the news media.

I rise to support the bipartisan resolution offered by Senators Dorgan and Lott to invalidate the FCC’s order.

We must ensure that the marketplace of ideas is not dominated by a few corporate conglomerates at the expense of our citizens and our democracy.

Since its founding, our nation has always recognized the importance of a free press in helping citizens make informed decisions on critical public issues.

That’s why the FCC’s order has produced such a public backlash.

Cross-Ownership Rule

By a 3-2 vote, the FCC lifted a restriction that prevents mergers between newspaper and television stations in the same market.

For years, this rule has ensured that consumers have access to diverse sources of information.

The FCC’s change could mean fewer voices and perspectives on the public airwaves and in the newspaper.

The number one television station in a market could be owned by the dominant newspaper – or even the only newspaper – in that same market.

That could hinder diverse and alternative viewpoints. And it could mean fewer reporters and few resources for covering local and community events.

Since 1975, two-thirds of independent newspaper owners have disappeared. The FCC should not hasten the death of America’s independent newspapers.

TV Ownership

The FCC’s second order would allow broadcast networks to own more stations across the country.

Currently, one broadcast network cannot own stations that reach more than 35 percent of the public. The FCC just raised that limit to 45 percent.

This consolidation could reduce the amount of local news coverage – just as it has in the radio industry.

We don’t want that to happen in other media like TV and newspapers.

My Work on the Issue

M. President, on April 9 -- nearly two months before the ruling –

I sent a letter to FCC Chairman Powell, along with 14 other Senators from both parties, asking the FCC to let the Congress and the public review and comment on the proposed changes before they were enacted.

Recently in the Appropriations Committee, I echoed the comments of Senators Dorgan and Hutchison on the need to address this issue on the Senate floor.

In the Appropriations Committee, we included a provision that would lower the media cap back to 35-percent. The House took similar action.

We must finish the job today by using the Congressional Review Act to invalidate the whole rule.

Mr. President, 80 percent of Americans get their news from local TV and newspapers.

We cannot allow a handful of corporations to dictate what all Americans can see, hear, and read as they make decisions on critical public issues.

Mr. President, I urge my colleagues to vote for diverse media ownership by supporting this resolution, and I ask Unanimous Consent that my full remarks be included in the Record.