NAB, Affiliates: Keep TV-Cable Ban

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The National Association of Broadcasters and 600 network affiliates Monday
urged a federal court in Washington, D.C., to retain the ban on the common
ownership of a cable system and a TV station within the same market.

In the same filing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit, the NAB and the affiliates said a Federal Communications
Commission rule that restricts one TV-station owner from reaching more than 35
percent of U.S. TV households is consistent with the First Amendment.

Time Warner Entertainment is asking the court to strike down the
TV-station/cable-system ownership ban as a direct prohibition on speech.

But the broadcasts argued that the rule is necessary to block cable operators
from favoring local TV stations they own over local TV stations they don't
own.

TWE maintained that must-carry obligations rule out possible
discrimination.

On the 35 percent cap, the NAB and the affiliates argued in part that the
case is not ripe for judicial review because the FCC's decision to retain the
rule last year was conveyed in a report to Congress, and not in a particular
rulemaking.

'A report to Congress does not alter legal rights or obligations and, thus,
is not an occasion for judicial review,' the NAB and the affiliates said.

The 35 percent cap -- a divisive issue that has caused all of the major
networks except ABC to flee the NAB -- is being challenged by Fox Television
Stations Inc., NBC and CBS.

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