Congressmen sound anti-cap note with FCC

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Key House and Senate lawmakers are pushing the FCC to do away with a cap that limits broadcasters to owning television stations that cover 35% of U.S. TV households.

"As the FCC undertakes a careful, thoughtful review of the broadcast ownership rules - the national ownership cap specifically - we would stress that marketplace realities do not support the localism argument for retaining the national ownership cap," wrote ten lawmakers in a letter dated Sept. 19. "Quite the contrary, there appears to be no strong nexus between the location of an owner of a broadcast station and the commitment of that station to serving the needs of its local community."

Signing the letter were House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.), Reps. Robert Ehrlich (R-Md.), Vito Fossella (R-NY), Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.), Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Sens. George Allen (R-Va.), John Breaux (D-La.), Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), John Ensign (R-Nev.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The. U.S. District Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit this month heard oral arguments on whether to keep the 35% cap, and observers predict the court will remand the rule back to the FCC.

Network affiliates are fighting hard to keep the cap, while the networks want to get rid of it. - Paige Albiniak

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