Four GOP members of the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday urged the Federal Communications Commission to
retain the 35 percent cap on one TV-group owner's national household reach.
Combined with the panel's Democrats, that would make a 14-8 majority for
keeping the cap.
"I think our media-ownership rules are working well," said Mississippi
Republican Trent Lott. "I think we should leave them as they are."
Specific endorsement for retaining the 35 percent cap -- an issue that has
divided broadcast networks and affiliates -- came from Republican Sens. Ted
Stevens (Alaska) and Conrad Burns (Montana). Maine's Olympia Snowe warned that the FCC appears to
be "opening the door" to "unfettered ownership in the industry."
The FCC is considering changes to a host of broadcast-ownership rules.
Chairman Michael Powell is widely believed to favor a plan to raise the cap
to 45 percent.
The FCC is acting under orders issued by the Republican-led Senate in 1996 to
review all ownership rules every two years and remove any deemed no longer
Even Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), who voted against the 1996 law because
it wasn't deregulatory enough, called Clear Channel Communications Inc.'s explosive growth since
then "a warning sign."
Only two Republicans -- New Hampshire's John Sununu and Virginia's George
Allen -- gave unwavering support to further deregulation.