Viacom Inc. president Mel Karmazin traded shots with the owner of his CBS
affiliate in Raleigh, N.C., during a Senate hearing on ownership.
Karmazin urged Congress to raise the 35 percent cap on TV-household reach so
his network can buy more stations.
"The network-television business is not a very good business," he said,
predicting that CBS and other networks will move sports and other high-value programming
to pay TV.
TV-station affiliates, on the other hand, are virtually printing money, he
said, adding, "When I die, I hope I come back as a network affiliate."
Jim Goodmon, head of Capitol Broadcasting Co. Inc., warned that local owners will lose
power to program stations if networks are allowed to reach more viewers and, thus,
have less need to negotiate favorable terms with affiliates.
"There isn't any way you can suggest that allowing these large companies to own
more stations will improve localism and diversity," Goodmon said.
Two newspaper publishers also tangled over removing the ban on local
cross-ownership of TV stations and newspapers.
"We are seeing the beginning of the end for our democracy," said Frank
Blethen, publisher of The Seattle Times, who predicted that sound news
judgment and dedication to public service would be sacrificed to Wall Street's
demand for ever-increasing profits.
Dean Singleton, chief executive of MediaNews Group Inc., called the claim
"preposterous" and pointed out that only 22 percent of newspaper companies have
publicly traded stock.