Networks keep up Capitol Hill pressure


Teeing off the big week in the media-ownership debate, three of the major
broadcast networks released a poll that they said indicates that Americans aren’t really as
worried about industry concentration as activists and some on Capitol Hill would
have you believe.

Conducted by Republican-leaning The Luntz Research Cos., the random survey of
700 people found that 65% of those polled said they were "not concerned" by the fact that
fewer than 7% of all television stations in America are owned by four largest

Those answering "very concerned" totaled only 6%. Also, 69% opposed a
government limit on the ability of a network to a own a TV station in their city
or town.

"In all my years of polling, I have never seen politicians more out of touch
with the American people," wrote Frank Luntz, the polling company’s chief
executive, in a memo describing the poll.

Lobbyists from CBS, Fox and NBC are planning to show the results to lawmakers
and bought ads publicizing the poll in Capitol Hill trade publications Roll
and The Hill.

ABC opposes efforts to hem in networks but isn’t active in the campaign. The networks
are fighting congressional efforts to return the 45% cap on one company’s TV-household reach to 35%.

Supporters of the rollback scoffed that the poll was designed to get
pro-network responses.

"Slogans are not going to fly," said Alan Frank, President of Post-Newsweek
Stations and chairman of the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance, the group of
network affiliates fighting to reinstate the previous limit. "This is clearly a
desperate attempt by the networks. Americans are not going to be fooled. They
don’t want four companies to decide what they see and when they see it."