Last updated: September 29, 2008 - 9:03pm
The latest attempt at a federal shield law was introduced in 2007 to much fanfare. It was a bipartisan bill given the best chance in decades of finally giving journalists and their sources protections from overzealous prosecutors, a protection most states already grant. But with only a sliver of a chance of passage in a lame-duck session, that effort will likely have to wait until a new Congress and administration. As Senate Commerce Committee general counsel Christine Kurth told a group of broadcasters in Washington, D.C., last week, "It is increasingly hard to pass any stand-alone legislation." Other bills that likely will have to wait for the next Congress, if then, include the Federal Communications Commission-blocking resolution announced with much fanfare by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) that would block an easing of media-ownership rules. That bill actually passed the Senate by a voice vote, but a House version has not gone anywhere, mirroring a similar attempt to block the FCC's media-ownership-rule rewrite in 2003. While stand-alone bills don't stand much of a chance, the communications-related bill with arguably the best chance of making it into law would give the National Telecommunications and Information Administration an additional $20 million to send out DTV-to-analog converter-box coupons and give the FCC $20 million for DTV education/outreach. Both of those were appended last week to the continuing resolution that would allow the government to continue to be funded through the March installation of a new administration. It was passed by the House last week.
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