S. 1372

Aficionados of the Murdoch-Clinton nexus are keeping a careful eye on the FAIR Ratings Act of 2005, introduced as S. 1372, and affectionately known as the Rupert Murdoch Empowerment Act of 2005.

The bill, being pushed hard by News Corp., would create federal oversight of television ratings. New regulation is not an obvious GOP cause, despite the bill’s introduction by Republican Senator Burns and Rep. Fossella. The explanation is that this is the legislative front of News Corp.’s campaign against the Nielsen Ratings’ shift from pen-and-paper to a digital system for metering what people are watching. The shift seems likely to give lower — Nielsen argues more accurate — ratings to some broadcast programs aimed at minorities, which appears to mean less money for Fox affiliates. (The P.R. arm of the campaign, Don’t Count Us Out, features lots of minority politicians suggesting that Nielsen’s change would hurt people of color, and was organized for News Corp. in part by the Clintonite Glover Park Group.)

The New York Times doesn’t think much of the plan.

But Senator Clinton hasn’t taken a position on the bill, her spokesman Philippe Reines emails. She may not have to take a side, but if she does, it’ll be a moment worth watching in the delicate Clinton-Murdoch tango. S. 1372