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Belo favors hike in ownership cap

Opposition of TV-station groups to any increase in the national TV-ownership cap may be crumbling.

Belo Corp. has dropped opposition to a hike in the 35 percent cap on one company's
TV-household reach and suggested that an increase to as much as 45 percent might be

"The time has come for proponents of divergent opinions to coalesce around a
rational revision of these long-outdated" broadcast-ownership rules, Belo
chairman Robert Decherd wrote in an April 16 letter to Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell.

"All parties need to make reasonable concessions," he added.

Belo is a leading member of the National Association of Broadcasters, which
is leading the fight to retain the 35 percent cap.

Powell is heading a review of all of the FCC's broadcast-ownership rules and is
aiming for a June 2 vote on revisions. Other rules being examined are local
limits on TV duopolies, cross-ownership of broadcast/newspaper and TV/radio
combos and multiple ownership of leading broadcast networks.

Decherd suggested that the national ownership cap be increased on the condition
that the FCC put a stop to network abuses alleged by TV-group owners negotiating
affiliation agreements.

Affiliates' biggest compliant is that networks are preventing them from exercising
their right to reject network programs.

Belo also suggested that the FCC establish easy-to-follow ownership limits; permit
cross-ownership of broadcast outlets and newspapers in the same market; continue
to forbid ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC from buying each other; and grandfather existing
ownership that does not comply with new limits.