Senate Dems Keep Heat on FCC in Clyburn Nomination Hearings

Senator threatens to pass resolution of disapproval if rules are weakened

Senate Dems threatened to pass a resolution of disapproval over the Federal Communications Commission’s media ownership rules, currently under circulation at the agency. The threat came from Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) during today's Senate Commerce renomination hearing of commissioner Mignon Clyburn.

Cantwell was one of nine Senate Dems who sent a letter late last week to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski arguing that weakening the ownership rules would lead to a further decline in minority ownership.

“The FCC might be headed for a resolution of disapproval if its goes down this route,” Cantwell told Clyburn. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who also signed the letter and questioned Clyburn about the direction of the FCC’s media ownership draft.

Mentioning her newspaper experience, Clyburn told the Senators that at her request, the FCC opened up a comment period on the FCC’s broadcast minority report, which showed minority ownership at radio and TV stations was low.

“Diversity and media are what I lived and breathed,” Clyburn said.

Though Senate Dems took a hard line on the FCC’s media ownership rules, they were mostly sending a message to Genachowski.

The GOP also had a message to send to the FCC about its attempts to regulate the Internet. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) who is retiring from the Senate, told Clyburn the FCC’s net neutrality rules “seemed like an overreach.” Hutchison wanted to know if the FCC would seek to reclassify the Internet to impose “common carrier regulations.”

Clyburn dodged the question, responding she would keep an open mind. “I am not comfortable commenting on a pathway forward,” Clyburn said.

Clyburn, who will likely be confirmed for her second term at the FCC, was one of four nominees, including Joshua Wright for a GOP commissioner slot on the Federal Trade Commission, appearing before the committee, which plans to mark up the nominations next week. 

Publish date: December 4, 2012 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT