Senate Dems Want Ownership Vote Delayed

Thirteen members of Congress ask FCC’s Pai to allow public comments on its plan to loosen station ownership rules.

On Wednesday, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expressing serious concerns regarding the lack of opportunity for public comment on the chairman’s proposal to eliminate existing TV broadcast ownership rules. McNerney, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was joined by 12 Democratic members on the Committee.  

“The FCC’s proposal to eliminate current television broadcast ownership rules bypasses a more common and transparent process for a decision of this magnitude,” said McNerney. “A repeal of these rules will have a dramatic impact on the diversity of viewpoints American audiences will have access to, and they are entitled to a public comment period to make their voices heard.”

The letter claims that the elimination of these ownership rules would make it easier for Sinclair Broadcast Group to merge with Tribune Media without having to make any divestitures. Additionally, since the proposal also includes the elimination of the media crossownership rules, Sinclair would be able to acquire newspapers and radio stations in the same local markets in which it owns TV broadcasting stations.

The letter urges Chairman Pai to seek additional public comment on the proposed rule changes before taking further action. Currently, the commission is expected to vote on this proposal on Nov. 16.

The following members joined McNerney in sending the letter: Mike Doyle (Pa.), Debbie Dingell (Mich.), Tony Cardenas (Calif.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Ben Ray Lujan (N.M.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Paul Tonko (N.Y.), Peter Welch (Vt.), Bobby Rush (Ill.), Joe Kennedy III (Mass.), Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (Colo.).

The letter is available here

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