To Veto or Not to Veto
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Yesterday, the Senate voted down the Federal Communications Commission's new media ownership rules. With a vote of 55-40, the resolution sets to roll back industry deregulation passed in June. In reaction, FCC Chairman Michael Powell said the upper chamber's move "would bring no clarity to media regulation, only chaos." To undo the new rules, the stand-alone resolution would have to be passed by the House and then signed by the president, which seems unlikely, since House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin supports the new rules and the White House has issued a veto threat against attempts to overturn the FCC's action. But if successful through another legislative means, disorder would result, because the changes are the product of a congressionally mandated review of the rules and replace practices rejected by federal courts. There is no way the FCC could craft new rules that would appease judicial mandates to deregulate and congressional efforts to regulate more.
Some Senate opposition seemed to be confused about what it was opposing. For example, Sen. Byron Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, railed against "radio consolidation." The problem with this stand is that the FCC changes actually tighten the radio rule. Because it would overturn all the FCC's new rules, Mr. Dorgan's bill would lead to more radio industry consolidation - which is what he is against. The goal of such a broad rejection can only be to throw the baby out with the bath water. …