House Backs 39% TV Cap


The House of Representatives Monday voted to set the national broadcast-ownership limit at 39% of U.S. TV homes. The measure was tucked into a giant spending bill that the Senate is expected to tackle in January.

The level was a compromise between the White House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, who wanted the cap returned to the 35% level set by Congress seven years ago. In practical terms, final passage would mean CBS and Fox won’t have to sell any stations. Under a 35% limit, they would be forced to unload one or two.

The FCC voted to lift the limit to 45% this summer, igniting a wave of protest on Capitol Hill and among activists nationwide. The measure just voted on also would bar the FCC from changing the limit without congressional approval.