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Bush Backs Powell on Media Rules

September 23, 2003|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — President Bush, in an interview broadcast Monday, threw his support behind FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell and the rules he drew up that would relax limits on how big media conglomerates can grow.

"I support what Michael Powell did," Bush said in an interview with Fox News. "He took a long, deliberative look and a lengthy process about what was fair and not fair, and we supported his actions."

The U.S. Senate voted last week to rescind new Federal Communications Commission rules that would allow television networks to own local TV stations that collectively reach as much as 45% of the national television audience, up from 35%.

The new rules also would permit one company to own a newspaper, a television station and several radio stations in a single market, lifting a decades-old ban on cross-ownership. A company also would be permitted to own two local television stations in more local markets.

The regulations face an uncertain future in the House, where lawmakers already have passed a bill that would prevent the FCC from spending money to enforce its new national television cap for a year. The Senate is expected to do the same.

Previously, Bush advisors had said they would recommend that the president veto the spending bill and the Senate vote to roll back the rules.

Asked whether he would veto a repeal of the regulations, Bush said only that he would work with Congress.

"There's always a chance before Congress finally acts ... to see if we can come up with an accommodation that meets everybody's interests," Bush said.

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