Strikes could cost L.A. $7 billion

A study by Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan's office revealed that potential strikes by actors and writers would cost the local economy $6.9 billion and nearly 82,000 jobs over five months.

The news came as the Writers Guild of America resumed negotiations with studio and network reps on a new three-year contract. The WGA's current three-year pact expires May 1. The Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have until June 30.

HILL Pushes dereg

A day before the FCC relaxed restrictions on dual ownership rules, leaders of the House Commerce Committee made it clear they want other ownership limits to come down quickly. Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and Telecommunications Subcommittee chief Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told FCC Chairman Michael Powell, in an April 18 letter, to begin a review of additional broadcast-ownership limits.

The rules are outmoded, they said, because the TV business has grown beyond the three-network world that existed when most industry restrictions originated. The rules "may have the effect of thwarting the growth and competitiveness of free, over-the-air broadcasters, especially vis-à-vis pay television services."

The lawmakers suggested Powell launch an independent rulemaking or accelerate the start of the next FCC biennial review of broadcast ownership rules. He has pledged to review the crossownership rule later this spring but has been expected to wait until court challenges to it and to the broadcast-reach cap are resolved.