Mea Culpa, But Still... (more on the raising of the media cap)
First, an apology. It appears I jumped the gun when I said the media rider attached to the Omnibus Spending Bill would allow Clear Channel to proceed with their plans to further dominate the broadcasting industry.
What the rider apparently does is raise the limit on a broadcaster's national share of the TV market. According to a story at tvtechnology.com,
The bill effectively raises the national audience reach limit of a single broadcaster to 39 percent, down from the 45 percent lid in the FCC's revised ownership rules, but up from the old 35 percent limit, where several Democrats and a few Republicans wanted it to stay.
Bipartisan opponents of the FCC's ownership revisions led a charge against the 45-percent cap that started immediately after the rules were adopted last summer, and culminated in a bill to hold them at the previous 35-percent level. That bill was crafted, off the clock, in the days right before Congress recessed for the holidays. Four days later, Republican lawmakers got together with White House officials in the night and bumped the legislative lid up to 39 percent. Democrats were livid, and the vote on the measure, which became part of the overall spending bill, was delayed.
Both Viacom and News Corp. exceeded the 35-percent cap, and effectively challenged it in court. Each of the companies have stations that collectively reach about 39 percent of the national audience.
Reacting to the news that the 39-percent threshold would likely pass, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who opposed lifting the lid, reportedly said, "the fix is in."
That said...here's another interesting "coincidence." At the forefront of industry lobbying to raise the media cap was CBS/Viacom, which happens to be refusing to air both a PETA-produced satire promoting vegetarianism and the winning ad from MoveOn.org's"Bush in 30 seconds" contest--although both organizations were willing to pay top dollar to air the ads during the Super Bowl. The CBS refusal to air these ads is ostensibly due to a long-standing policy of refusing "advocacy ads" because they don't want to "trouble" the audience with "controversial" statements about important subjects.
You may remember the firestorm of controversy that ensued after, during last year's Super Bowl, CBS aired a Bush administration ad claiming that drug use supports terrorism. CBS reportedly intends to air another Bush ad during this year's Super Bowl.