Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) has introduced the sweeping Media Ownership Reform Act of 2005 (MORA) that would “fix” what the lawmaker describes as “a broken media system” that lets select individuals determine media content on TV and radio and in newspapers and other media. According to Hinchey, the bill addresses media ownership consolidation and sets up new requirements “for a diverse media that will ensure Americans have access to a wide array of ideas and information.”
The legislation would reintroduce the Fairness Doctrine, reinstate a cap on the number of radio stations one entity can own nationwide, reinstate the 25 percent national cap on TV station ownership, require broadcasters to file regular reports on how they are serving the public interest and require more independently-produced shows on TV.
According to Hinchey, media ownership consolidation makes media less responsive to local needs. “It is imperative that the Congress take action to fix this broken media system," he said. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” In announcing MORA, Hinchey did not specifically address how his bill jibes with the First Amendment that explicitly prohibits Congress from “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” For more information, visit www.house.gov/hinchey/.