Statement on Senate Commerce Committee Approval of Public Interest Guidelines for Broadcasters
Yesterday, in a Senate Commerce Committee proceeding that was, on the whole, favorable to broadcasters' interests, media reformers achieved one significant victory: In a bipartisan vote of 13 to 10, the Committee approved an amendment by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) that directs the Federal Communications Commission to set specific public interest guidelines for broadcasters. Among Committee members voting for the amendment were Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) both voted for the amendment.
The amendment directs the FCC to establish "minimum quantitative guidelines for locally originated programming, local electoral and public affairs programming, and independently produced programming for television broadcast licensees." The amendment also directs the FCC, when it is reviewing broadcaster license renewals, to consider the extent to which broadcasters comply with these guidelines.
The Senate sent a clear and unarguable signal to the FCC today that this agency must take seriously the public interest obligations of broadcasters. The PIPA Coalition will work hard to ensure that today's Senate vote leads to FCC approval of strong public interest guidelines.
Alliance for Better Campaigns
Center for Creative Voices in Media
Center for Digital Democracy
Center for Governmental Studies
Center for Voting and Democracy
Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting
Committee for the Study of the American Electorate
Democracy Matters Institute
Global Resource Action Center for the Environment
Institute for Public Representation of Georgetown University Law Center
League of United Latin American Citizens
Media Access Project
MediaChannel.org/Media for Democracy 2004
National Council of Churches
New America Foundation
Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Inc.
People for the American Way
Rock the Vote
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Media and Democracy
Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.