House Cmte Votes to Block FCC Changes; Senators Introduce Congressional Veto
With a 40-25 vote, the House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would keep the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from implementing its recent decision to repeal media ownership rules and grant large corporations greater control of the media.
Specifically, the bill would keep the FCC from spending money to relax ownership limits on television stations - which would allow a single company to own TV stations that reach 45 percent of households in the US. Sponsored by David R. Obey (D-WI), the bill would effectively restore the previous limit of 35 percent, which was set in the 1996 Telecommunications Act, according to Congressional Quarterly Today.
With opposition from the House leadership and the White House, the bill faces considerable obstacles. However, public outcry against the issue has only grown - just 10 percent of those polled said that allowing companies to own more broadcast and newspaper operations in the same city would have a positive effect, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. "We are hopeful that Congress is finally prepared to do what the FCC has refused to do," Gene Kimmelman, director of the Consumers Union, a leading group advocating against media consolidation, told CBS Market Watch.
Meanwhile, 35 Senators introduced a congressional veto of the new FCC rules - that would change the media ownership cap to allow a single company to own TV stations that reach 45 percent of households in the US; and would rewrite two existing "cross-ownership" rules to lift current restrictions that keep companies from owning a newspaper and a radio or TV station in the same market. The veto will next be considered by the full Senate. In addition, a Senate committee approved a version of the House bill last month.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .