NAB lobbies duopolies to the wire - Broadcasting & Cable

NAB lobbies duopolies to the wire

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As lobbying over the Federal Communications Commission's new media-ownership
rules drew to a close Friday, broadcasters weren't giving up on winning more
lenient TV-duopoly rules than those proposed by agency chairman Michael
Powell.

Friday the National Association of Broadcasters floated a new plan that would
permit duopolies anywhere as long as an owner's total viewing share was no
greater than 30% of the market.

Ownership among two of the top-four-rated stations would be permitted, but
triopolies would not.

Powell's plan would bar duopolies among the top-four-rated stations in a
market, which would effectively limit duopolies to 119 of the top 177
markets.

Broadcasters said that limit would deny needed efficiencies among small
markets where only four commercial stations operate.

Sources following the debate among FCC commissioners said the idea was getting
little traction, although debate continues over some variation of a previous NAB
idea that would apply the "top-four" limit in the 25 largest markets but ban
only top-three parings in markets 26-75 and ban top-two pairs in markets 76-210.

The duopoly revision is expected to be approved Monday by the FCC.

Also on tap: hiking the national TV-ownership cap to 45% of households,
permitting TV triopolies in six of the top seven markets, allowing local
broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership and scaling back the allowable size of local
radio clusters in some small markets.

The controversial plan has attracted intense news coverage recently and is
expected to draw throngs of protesters to the commission's Washington, D.C.,
headquarters.

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