Wright Wants Deregulation


Washington -- NBC CEO Robert Wright put in a plea for
greater broadcast-industry deregulation last week.

Wright, who lamented current limits on television-station
ownership, said in a speech here that the government should expand the number of American
households the networks are allowed to reach through their own stations.

"In recent years, our competitors have been
deregulated," Wright said. "Television rules have not changed for 50 years.
Television needs to be deregulated like radio."

Wright added that NBC might leave the National Association
of Broadcasters because the group was not doing enough to repeal the law prohibiting it
from reaching more than 35 percent of the nation's households.

An NAB spokesman responded that broadcast deregulation was
indeed a high priority, although the association does not feel that the 35 percent cap on
network viewer market share should be changed.

"For him to suggest that the NAB is not for
deregulation is not true," NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said. "The NAB finds it
appropriate to maintain the cap."

Wharton -- who said the NAB was strong despite the loss
last year of "Big Four" network member Fox Broadcasting Co. -- claimed that the
organization would survive without NBC as a client. "The NAB will be a strong
organization with or without NBC as a member," he added.

Wright also addressed the broadcast industry's transition
from analog to digital broadcasts, calling the shift both slow-going and expensive.
"This is no walk in the park," he said.

States News Service