Senate OKs veto of newspaper-b'cast rule

Clinton, Obama both support resolution

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate approved a "legislative veto" on Thursday that would overturn the FCC's new rule allowing newspaper and broadcast combinations in the top 20 markets.

The "resolution of disapproval," sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and 26 other senators, was approved by a voice vote and, if approved by the House, faces a veto by President Bush.

Both Democratic candidates for president, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, support the resolution.

Republican FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has described the agency's action as a "relatively minor loosening" of broadcast media ownership restrictions. The rule was approved by the FCC on a 3-2 party-line vote in December with both Democrats dissenting.

Dorgan called the FCC action opened a "gaping loophole for more mergers of newspapers and television stations across the country."

The House also is considering a nullification of the ownership rule, but even if supporters are successful, the measure would likely be rejected by Bush.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said he was "disappointed with the Senate's action" and would recommend to the president that he veto the bill.

"The FCC's approach modernizes a 30-year-old rule in a way that improves the financial viability of the newspaper industry, which faces an increasingly competitive media market," he said.