The House voted Monday for a massive spending bill that included a provision that caps a TV-station group's potential reach at 39% of TV households.
The Senate is not expected to take up the bill until early January.
The 39% cap spares Viacom Inc. (owner of CBS and UPN stations) and News Corp. (owner of Fox stations) from having to sell stations. Both companies reach just under 39%.
In June, the Federal Communications Commission raised the cap to 45%, but both the House and Senate made moves to retain the old 35% cap.
The 39% cap would be statutory, meaning that the FCC would no longer have power to raise or lower it. Unless Congress changed the cap, parties would have to persuade a court that the limitation on station ownership violated the federal constitution.