NASA vows to continue 35% fight

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The Network Affiliated Stations Alliance, representing 600 TV stations, vowed Friday to keep fighting for legislation that would reinstate the 35% cap on one company's TV-household reach.

The move follows a decision by the National Association of Broadcasters, of which many of those same stations are members, to withdraw its support of any rollback legislation.

The NAB dropped its bid for legislation when it concluded that in the current political climate, it would be impossible to achieve passage of a “clean” bill -- one not laden with reregulatory measures broadcasters oppose. NASA apparently disagrees.

NASA companies that are also NAB members have made rolling back the cap a priority in their effort to ensure that networks don't gain more leverage over retransmission-consent talks.

NASA "continues strongly to support legislation targeted solely at retaining the 35% cap," said association chairman Alan Frank, also president of Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. "While, like NAB, NASA opposes legislation that would roll back other parts of the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] ownership decision or add other anti-broadcaster provisions, we continue to believe the commission erred in increasing the national cap to 45%.

"Both retention of the cap and relaxation of the FCC's other ownership rules, which we believe should have gone further, are driven by the principle of localism and are, therefore, entirely consistent with each other."

Legislation passed by the Senate Commerce Committee would reinstate the previous ownership cap, lifted to 45% by the FCC June 2, but would also reverse other FCC decisions such as reinstating the ban on local broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership and forcing divestitures among radio-station clusters that don't comply with new local-ownership limits.

The NAB last week not to push for a separate, "clean" rollback, perhaps attached to appropriations legislation, after becoming convinced that “it was politically and legislatively infeasible.”

A House Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday is scheduled to vote on FCC funding.

Rolling back the cap, as well as other broadcast-related measures, is expected to be proposed as an amendment.

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