Stearns bill eases ownership restrictions


Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) introduced legislation Wednesday that would lift the broadcast-TV-reach cap to 45 percent of TV households and remove
restrictions limiting cross-ownership of TV stations and local newspapers.

The bill, which is unlikely to get serious consideration, would be an end run
around the Federal Communications Commission's ownership review.

"This measure would ease antiquated ownership restrictions and broaden the
influence of market forces," said Stearns, the second-ranking Republican on the
House Telecommunications Subcommittee.

The cap currently stands at 35 percent.

Stearns' bill would also preserve the "UHF discount" -- which, for purposes
of the household reach cap, tallies UHF stations at 50 percent of a market's
households -- and bar the FCC from reinstating a ban on cross-ownership of a
broadcast station and a local cable system.

The ban was struck down by federal judges one year ago and was officially
eliminated Wednesday by the FCC.