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In Fact...

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SENATOR HOLLINGS TO THE RESCUE

Jeff Chester writes: Public interest advocates claim a victory in
their fight against the seemingly invincible media-consolidation
juggernaut. Ernest Hollings, the octogenarian "junior" senator from
South Carolina and Democratic chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee,
answered the advocates' call for an investigation of the
Administration's latest media maneuvers and dealt the White House one of
its few defeats in the media policy realm. Hollings forced the Bush team
to abandon a plan that would have radically restructured the merger
review process. Hatched in secret over several months with the input of
industry-connected "advisers," the Administration plan, put into
place in March, removed all media-, communications-, Internet- and
software-related mergers from FTC purview. Traditionally, the Justice Department and FTC have shared jurisdiction over media- and
Internet-related mergers, but Bush officials and industry lobbyists,
arguing for a more "efficient" review process, wanted to turn these
matters over to the DOJ exclusively. In light of the rubber-stamp
support for media deregulation at the FCC, there was great concern over the removal of the FTC from merger oversight. Unlike the DOJ, the FTC is bipartisan by law, and it also brings a consumer focus to the antitrust review process. Fortunately, the back-room DOJ-FTC deal was terminated in late May, after Senator
Hollings threatened to cut the budget of both agencies. Hollings also
took the initiative to insure that FCC chairman Mike Powell takes a more
honest look at the impact of media consolidation on our democracy.
Joined by Senators Herb Kohl and Mike DeWine, Hollings requested that
the FCC study "concentration in the television programming marketplace
and its impact on program diversity." Powell has told public interest
groups that they must "prove or lose" critical safeguards on media
ownership. Now he'll have to provide evidence that media monopoly encourages diverse voices and quality
programming.

MOST FASCINATING JOKE OF THE WEEK

From the Sun, New York City's new right-wing paper: "The
evening's honorary chairman was Peggy Noonan, who brought the house down
with her anecdotes, including a hilarious joke about Vice President
Gore, President Bush, Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Blair and
Secretary of State Powell. I'll give you the punch line at another
time." Readers are invited to concoct a joke using the above personages,
with punch line.

NEWS OF THE WEAK IN REVIEW

Two-thirds of Americans, commie sympathizers? Asked in a nationwide survey, commissioned by Columbia Law School, whether the
Constitution includes "the following statement about the proper role of
government: 'From each according to his ability, to each according to
his needs,'" 35 percent answered "yes" and 34 percent "don't know."
Further rampant radicalism: 60 percent said (correctly) that the
President may not suspend the Bill of Rights "in time of war
or...national emergency."

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