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WASHINGTON -- A Senate committee approved legislation Tuesday designed to slow FCC chairman Kevin Martin's move to ease the general ban prohibiting a single company from owning a newspaper and a TV station in the same market.
The legislation pushed by Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Trent Lott, R-Miss., would delay for at least six months Martin's attempt to eviscerate the rule in the nation's biggest markets.
Dorgan accused Martin of harboring an "obsession" to allow more concentration of media ownership.
"We already have galloping concentration that hurts our country," Dorgan said. He added that the committee's vote sends a message to Martin that "he needs to follow a fair process, examine the impact of his proposal on localism and diversity of ownership and let the public be heard."
On Dec. 18, Martin plans to hold a vote on his proposal that would allow one media company to own a newspaper and a TV station in the top 20 markets as long as the station isn't one of the four most popular stations in that market.
Among other things, the bill requires two 90-day periods for the public to comment and calls for the establishment of an independent panel on female and minority ownership. This panel must issue recommendations and the FCC must act on them before voting on any proposed ownership rules.