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Summer vacations bring lull in media ownership storm

With the recent overwhelming vote in the House against the FCC's new TV station ownership cap, Congressional sentiment is tilting toward a roll back to the current 35 percent limit. However, a fierce fight remains until this fall over issues involving cross-ownership of broadcast stations and newspapers, TV duopoly rules and tougher restrictions on radio ownership.

Legislation in the House - attached to a major appropriations bill - is restricted entirely to the roll back of the station ownership cap. The White House and Republican leaders in the House have vowed to strip the cap roll back out of the appropriations legislation when lawmakers meet in a conference to work out the differences between their bills.

That task, however, will be very difficult. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), a major opponent to the new FCC rules, has vowed not to let that happen. His Senate amendment goes further than the House version. Not only would Stevens roll back the national cap back from 45 percent to 35 percent, but he would nullify the FCC decision relaxing a rule that prevents broadcasters from buying daily newspapers in their markets and that requires major radio companies to divest key properties.

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