Most FCC Rules Survive House Vote

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The House defeated an amendment Tuesday night that would have nullified
relaxed broadcast-ownership rules approved by the Federal Communications
Commission June 2.

However, the House was expected to approve later in the night the FCC's
fiscal-2004 budget with a provision barring the agency from allowing a
TV-station group to reach more than 35% of TV households nationally.

The FCC had raised the cap to 45%, which, along with other deregulatory
moves, triggered a backlash on Capitol Hill that has not run its course.

Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) sponsored the amendment that would have
entirely gutted the FCC’s new policies, which included permitting the common
ownership of a TV station and a newspaper in same market without a waiver for
the first time since 1975.

Several lawmakers said they voted against the Hinchey amendment even though
they supported its substance. They said they feared that such a broad rebuke of
the FCC would not become law without jeopardizing the narrower goal of restoring
the 35% cap.

Independent network affiliates support the 35% cap as way of retaining some
market clout when negotiating programming contracts with ABC, CBS, NBC and
Fox.

The Hinchey amendment was defeated 254-174, as 194 Republicans joined with 60
Democrats to scuttle the rollback effort.

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