Cantwell: Proposed FCC Rule Could Provoke Senate Resolution of Disapproval

Senator will pursue resolution if FCC moves forward with media ownership rule that increases media consolidation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a hearing Tuesday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) voiced her support for pursuing a Resolution of Disapproval against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) if its media ownership rules urge further media consolidation. Her remarks came during a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing of the FCC, with the FCC’s commissioners in attendance.

“And so it seems as if you are going to pursue what your Republican predecessor did with urging more media consolidation,” Cantwell told the FCC commissioners during Tuesday’s hearing. “Obviously I don’t support your proposed rules. So I’m not going to spend a lot of time on that today other than to just say we will certainly pursue a Resolution of Disapproval if that’s where you end up.”

Watch a video of Senator Cantwell’s remarks today. 

In November 2012, Cantwell called for a public vote on the FCC media ownership rules that could increase media consolidation. She also pointed out that the draft order was similar to previous Bush-era FCC attempts to enable large media companies to more easily own a daily newspaper and operate a television or radio station in the same market. In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and his fellow Commissioners, Cantwell expressed disappointment that discussion on a draft order with the potential to ease media ownership rules was taking place behind closed doors.

In May 2012 at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing Cantwell urged Chairman Genachowski to reconsider the FCC’s proposed rules on media ownership. Previously, in December 2011, Cantwell expressed disapproval with a FCC vote to move forward with this proposed rulemaking.

The proposal is similar to a 2007 proposal to ease media ownership rules under the Bush administration and former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. On May 15, 2008, the Senate passed the Resolution of Disapproval of those rules – co-sponsored by Cantwell and then-senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden. In the end, the FCC was unsuccessful in enacting new rules. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals remanded Martin’s rules back to the Commission as a result of legal challenges by public-interest groups.