FCC: Viacom May Keep Stations


Viacom Inc. will not have to sell TV stations while the Federal
Communications Commission is considering changes to a TV-station-ownership rule,
the agency said Thursday.

Viacom owns CBS and other stations reaching 41 percent of TV households, in
violation of an FCC rule that caps household reach at 35 percent.

But in February, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
sent the 35 percent cap back to the FCC, telling the agency to retain, modify or
eliminate the rule.

Viacom, the commission said, would have one year from the FCC issuance of a
final TV-station-ownership rule to come into compliance with the terms of the
adopted rule.

Democratic commissioner Michael Copps argued that the agency gave Viacom too
much time because a 'final' FCC decision likely won't be known for at least
another year or longer.

Viacom, he added, should be forced to comply with the FCC rule in effect
March 26, 2003.