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Senate OKs 39% Cap

Legislation setting the national TV-ownership cap at 39% of television homes is headed to the President’s desk after the Senate Thursday voted 65-28 to approve a huge omnibus spending bill in which the new limit was tucked. Democratic leaders opposing the package vowed to fight the cap and other measures they oppose with legislative rewrites in the future.

"We’ll be back," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle from the Senate floor.

Disputes over the cap and other issues, including overtime pay rules and labels for imported clothes, had stymied passage since early December. The $375 billion bill also funds operations for many major federal agencies as well as the FCC.

Under the new TV cap, the number of stations one company could own would be limited to a national reach of 39% of television households. Only Congress can change the limit. The measure also extends the time between FCC review of other broadcast-ownership rules from two to four years. The House passed the omnibus bill in December.