Fritts urges FCC to stick with 35% cap

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Despite a change in thinking by at least one of his members, National
Association of Broadcasters president Eddie Fritts Wednesday called on the
Federal Communications Commission to not give in to networks' demand for a
higher national TV-ownership cap.

"In our view, the 35 percent cap has been good for local and diversity," he
told the Media Institute.

Although Belo Corp. has told the FCC it could accept a hike in the cap on one
company's national reach to 45 percent of TV households, Fritts said the NAB is
holding its ground.

Asked how much of a hike would prompt an NAB court challenge, Fritts wouldn't
say, adding, "We'll see what the commission does and take a look at it."

As for radio-ownership limits, Fritts said the FCC should not act on a
proposal to alter local-market measurements in a way that would reduce the
number of stations one company can own in a market.

If the plan is accepted, however, the new rule should not be used to force
companies to divest stations they already own, he said.

Why does the NAB support a national ownership cap in television, but not
radio? "The answer is simple: Radio and television are entirely distinct
mediums," he said. "Moreover, there are 1,300 commercial TV stations, compared
with 13,000 radio stations."

The consequence: Radio is still far less concentrated than TV, even with
substation deregulation seven years ago.