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NAB changes direction again

In response to the quickly shifting political winds, the NAB has changed course again--this time resuming support for legislation that would roll back the FCC's 35-percent ownership cap and nothing else.

NAB board members voted to resume support for the "pure" legislation on ownership caps after the House rejected amendments offensive to the NAB that were included in a Senate bill.

NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said that the association never opposed increasing the 35 percent cap. However, three weeks ago, president Eddie Fritts said the NAB would oppose the legislation--then in the Senate--because it had attached provisions the NAB didn't like. Those amendments prohibit newspaper cross-ownership and duopolies, as well as rules that would force radio companies to sell some stations.

Once termed the most powerful industry lobby in Washington by Senate Commerce chairman John McCain, the NAB--now without any network members--has seen its influence wane during the ownership rules debate.

Along with the shift of position on the legislation last week, the NAB board also "unanimously endorsed a vote of confidence" for Fritts, Wharton said. "Everyone understands what a great job Eddie is doing under difficult conditions and the vote affirmed the board's confidence in Eddie's leadership."

Fritts named acting chief lobbyist John Orlando to the post permanently last week.

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