Networks will try to derail congressional rollback of FCC ownership action

About 100 executives from broadcast stations owned by the four major television networks will descend on Capitol Hill this Wednesday to lobby against legislation that would rollback the FCC’s new media ownership rules.

The network-backed lobbying effort is independent of the NAB, which recently lost the last of its network members over the issue of the ownership cap. The networks support the 45 percent cap approved June 2 by the FCC. That rule is now in jeopardy in Congress.

Though the NAB has reversed its position on the legislation that rolls back to the 35 percent cap, the broadcast organization claims it has not changed its fundamental position on the ownership issue. That would theoretically mean the NAB and the network are still at odds on a divisive issue even though the two antagonists now support the same end result.

It’s yet to be clear whether the NAB's change of heart is a covert effort to lure the networks back into its fold, or—as publicly stated by the NAB—a change of course to address political reality.

There was media speculation that the trek of local TV executives to Congress this week will be the first official act of the Local Broadcasters Alliance, a group of O&O activists that the networks quietly assembled after their exit from the NAB.

What is clear is that the networks badly want to raise the ownership cap in order to increase their roster of local stations, an outcome that some very powerful members of Congress vehemently oppose.

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