Statement on Senate Commerce Committee Approval of Public Interest Guidelines for Broadcasters

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

Benton Foundation

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

Common Cause

Democracy Matters Institute


Free Press

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 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

Public Citizen

Rock the Vote

True Majority

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press

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