Broadcast ownership bill filed in House

March 7, 2003

Broadcast ownership rules would change under new legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. A proposed bill by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), vice chairman of the telecommunications subcommittee, would eliminate cross-ownership rules on newspaper-television station ownership and modify rules for multiple ownership of broadcast television stations.

The multiple ownership modification would increase the national audience reach limitations for TV stations owned by the same person or entity to 45 percent (from 35 percent).

"This measure would ease antiquated ownership restrictions and broaden the influence of market forces," said Stearns. "I appreciate steps taken by the FCC to ease these restrictions, but it is important to keep this modernization moving in the right direction with this legislation."

The proposed bill modifies current cross-ownership limitations by eliminating provisions limiting the granting or renewal of a radio or television broadcast license to any party on the basis of ownership, operation or control of a daily newspaper. It also bars the FCC from prohibiting or limiting a person or entity from holding any form of ownership or other interest in a broadcast station and a cable system serving the same community.

In addition, the bill provides that, in calculating the national audience reach limitations, UHF stations shall be attributed with no more than 50 percent of the TV households in their market.

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