With momentum in Congress seemingly going their way, board members of the
National Association of Broadcasters Monday voted to resume support for a bill
that would reinstate the 35% cap on one company's TV-household reach.
The vote comes only 17 days after NAB president Eddie Fritts announced that the
group would fight the legislation out of fear that other provisions the group
opposes would be tacked on at some point in the legislative process.
"Prospects for getting a 35%-only bill appear greater than they were a few
weeks ago," NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said.
Despite reversing Fritts' decision, the board "unanimously endorsed a vote of
confidence" for him, Wharton said.
The vote comes on the same day Fritts named acting chief lobbyist John
Orlando to the post permanently.
Fritts' previous decision to fight a 35% bill caused dissention between the
members more determined to preserve deregulatory gains on newspaper
cross-ownership and duopolies and those more determined to limit the major
broadcast networks' ability to buy more stations.
The House of Representatives last week stunned the White House, GOP leaders
and the broadcast networks by voting to reinstate the 35% cap.
Some lawmakers' efforts to attach provisions that also would reinstate the
ban on local broadcast newspaper-cross-ownership and restore restrictions on
local TV duopolies were defeated.
The Senate is expected to follow the House's lead on the cap in September,
and battles over cross-ownership and duopolies are expected to flare up again.
The congressional reregulatory moves are a backlash against the Federal Communications Commission's June 2
relaxation of broadcast-ownership limits.