WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said on Tuesday it would veto a large government-spending bill if it reimposed media-ownership caps that were recently relaxed by the Federal Communications Commission.
A House of Representatives committee altered a spending bill for the FCC and other government agencies last week to block deals that would allow television networks to own individual stations that reach more than 35 percent of the audience.
The Bush administration said on July 22, 2003 that it would consider vetoing a large spending bill in the House of Representatives if it reimposed media-ownership caps that were recently relaxed by the Federal Communications Commission. Bush is shown with FCC Chairman Michael Powell during a White House event June 27. Photo by Larry Downing/Reuters
The agency recently raised the national audience limit from to 45 percent 35 percent, sparking a firestorm of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans who argued the move could hurt local reporting and diversity of viewpoints.
The Bush administration said any move to roll back the changes would scuttle the $37.9 billion spending bill, which also sets the budgets for the Justice, State and Commerce departments.
"The Administration believes that the new FCC media ownership rules more accurately reflect the changing media landscape and the current state of network station ownership, while still guarding against undue concentration in the marketplace," the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.
"If this provision or a provision like it with respect to any one of the other FCC Rules is contained in the final legislation presented to the President, his Senior Advisors would recommend that he veto the bill," OMB said.
The four major networks, Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, Viacom Inc.'s CBS, News Corp. Ltd.'s Fox and General Electric Co.'s NBC oppose any attempt to roll back the new, higher ownership cap.
But the BBC dismissed talk of a rift among its governors and denied reports it had called an emergency management meeting.
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