Wednesday, July 23, 2003

U.S. House Guts FCC Regulations

Michael Powell cannot say he wasn't warned. Why wait to step down? He should do so immediately. Today, the House of Reps put a stop to the 45% rule, and this is just the beginning.
Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chief sponsor of the provision that would derail the liberalized FCC rules, acknowledged in an interview that a tough fight lay ahead over keeping the language intact in the bill's final version. But he declared victory, for now.

"It's extremely rare to be able to reverse a regulatory decision that gives away the store to the big boys," Obey said.

Not that there isn't mischief afoot. The Bush Administration is threatening to veto any bill that tinkers with the FCC's media decisions, but I've yet to hear a good argument why. President Bush hasn't made this a crucial item for himself, and for good reason. America doesn't want it.

Despite GOP control of the White House, Congress and the FCC, the House vote set the stage for what may ultimately be an unraveling of a regulatory policy that the party strongly favors. The fight now moves to the Senate, where several lawmakers of both parties want to include a similar provision in their version of the bill.

Top Republicans are hoping that, with leverage from the threat of a first-ever veto by President Bush, the final House-Senate compromise bill later this year will drop the provision thwarting the FCC.

President Bush won't speak out on it, and he won't follow through with his veto. That would be the depth of idiocy. How will he explain such a veto? "I will not tolerate reversal of decisions made by my appointed bureaucrats, especially by the elected representatives of the people." Somehow, I don't see him saying that.

So the Senate should get on with it and send it along to President Bush's desk. Double-dare him. He's full of hot air, and everyone knows it. He's not going to veto anything, or it will shine a light on this tawdry affair that was not meant to be broadly noticed. The Internet blog community dispelled that fantasy, and more surprises are to come. The American people speak for themselves now, along with our representatives, and we want more information, and more media diversity, not less. It's time our leaders get with the new program, or move aside.