Karmazin: Revamp TV ownership rules


Viacom President and COO Mel Karmazin pushed to get rid of some regulations that govern the broadcasting industry, while also saying that there are "some rules that need to be enforced," at Cable 2001's opening panel in Chicago on Monday.

"I think we need to do the 2002 Telecommunications Act," Karmazin said. He was responding to comments from AT&T's C. Michael Armstrong, who wants to derail a bill offered in the House that would open the 1996 Telecommunications Act and deregulate incumbent phone companies long-distance high-speed offerings. Specifically, Karmazin would like the FCC to strike down a rule that forbids companies from owning two major broadcast networks, such as CBS and NBC. "If General Electric decided it wanted to hire an investment banker and sell NBC, we would like to sit there with one of those books and make a bid," Karmazin said.

Karmazin also would like to rid himself of FCC rules that limit how many radio stations and TV stations a company can own on the basis of how many voices exist in a market. But Karmazin also backs creation of a rule, which has been pushed by Disney, that would require cable operators to give all content providers equal access to subscribers.

"Everyone wants a level playing field as long as it tilts towards them," said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. - Paige Albiniak