NAB Drops Support for Legislation to Roll Back Ownership Caps

The NAB says it won't support legislation in Congress to reverse last month's FCC vote to increase television broadcast ownership caps from 35 percent to 45 percent.

While it looked like NAB would support the legislation--which would roll back the ownership caps to 35 percent--the association announced in a hastily convened press conference that provisions were being tacked onto the bill that would do more harm than good to the industry, in particular a proposal to reverse the FCC's decision to relax newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules.

NAB president Eddie Fritts said that the association would support a "clean" version of a bill to roll back the ownership caps but that he doesn't think that's possible with the current legislation and political climate.

The June 2 decision caused "a great deal more anti-media sentiment than I think anyone would have estimated," Fritts said.

Fritts also denied earlier press reports that the NAB had caved into pressure from the broadcast networks and reversed its position on the ownership caps. He also denied trying to woo back the networks, though he did confirm that NAB has been meeting with them. ABC, the last NAB network member, resigned from the association in June because of NAB's opposition to increasing the ownership caps.

NAB's executive committee met this week to re-affirm its position on ownership caps. Fritts said the association would concentrate its efforts on defeating the current legislation.