FCC Advised To Raise Cable Cap

Washington—Cable companies would be able to serve as many as 45% of subscription-TV households under a recommendation to FCC commissioners drafted by the agency's Media Bureau.

The new ownership restriction would not be a rigid number but would vary between 30% and 45%, depending on the company's ownership of cable programming networks. Companies with large programming stakes would face more-restrictive limits than those with little involvement in the network side of the business.

Under the Media Bureau's reasoning, companies with extensive programming investments would be more likely to discriminate against unaffiliated programmers when setting channel lineups.

If commissioners agree with the recommendation, the change in cable-ownership limit could be approved before the end of the year.

New Hampshire Okays Court Cameras

Concord, N.H.—The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled Friday that state judges cannot bar cameras from their courtrooms without factual rather than speculative reasons. The court said that "fear of jurors' being exposed to potentially prejudicial information or of witnesses' being exposed to the testimony of other witnesses generally will not be a valid basis for denying electronic coverage." That reason was among those cited in a Virginia court decision last week barring video cameras from the trial of accused Washington, D.C.-area sniper John Muhammad.

People Meter Approved

Boston—The Media Rating Council gave its official seal of approval to Nielsen's Local People Meter service in Boston. The MRC is the industry group that sets the standards having to do with methodologies, sample characteristics and the like for ratings services.