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Senate unit pushes FCC budget, with caveats

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an FCC budget of $252 million for 2002, $4 million more in funds than the FCC had asked for, but the extra money came with a stern request that the agency examine the declining standards of broadcast television and how they are impacting children.

The budget was given the blessing of Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), who said during a recent hearing that he thought the FCC's needs warranted a higher budget. But Hollings also historically has been concerned about violence on television, repeatedly offering a bill that would ban violent television to late hours.

The full House passed 408-19 a bill that approves the budgets of the FCC and the Departments of Commerce, State and Judiciary. The House granted the FCC $239 million for fiscal year 2002, $9 million above last year, $10 million below the president's request and $13 million less than the Senate approved.

The discrepancy will be resolved in a conference between the House and Senate later this year. Most of the FCC's budget comes from regulatory fees the FCC levies, although the amount of fees the FCC can gather must be approved by Congress. - Paige Albiniak