FCC Hears Richmond Views on Dereg

Richmond, Va.— FCC commissioners meeting here to discussion media deregulation with the public were greeted by dozens of activists, many donning blue coats in the guise of mad scientists with cardboard televisions framing their heads. Their message, in general: Big business already has too much control of the media.

That was the word from some of the speakers, too. "I am worried about the concentration of media ownership into fewer and fewer hands," said Danny LeBlanc, president of the Virginia AFL-CIO. Allen Barrett, Richmond NAACP president, said consolidation undermines minority ownership.

"Oligopoly in the Fourth Estate is a real threat to diversity and democratic ideals." Bear Stearns & Co. Analyst Victor Miller countered, noting that broadcasters' operating expenses are under enormous pressure from cable competition. Thomas Herwitz, president of Fox station operations, said Fox's larger size allowed its O&Os to increase local news coverage.

Cable Channel for Chisox, Cubs?

Chicago— Officials from Major League Baseball's Chicago White Sox and Cubs would not comment Friday on a report that they are considering forming a Chicago-area regional sports network. The Chicago Tribune
reported that Tribune Co., which owns the Cubs, and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf might partner with Comcast Corp., the area's major cable operator, to form a new channel. Reinsdorf also owns the Chicago Bulls, which presumably would also participate.

Both the White Sox and Cubs are in multi-year agreements with Fox Sports Net. But both deals contain exit clauses that could be exercised by the end of the year, according to the Tribune.

WLS-TV Bumps Burns

Chicago— Anchor Diann Burns was pulled off WLS-TV newscasts last week after she and the ABC-owned, top-rated station failed to reach an agreement on further employment. Her contract with the station runs until June. Local speculation is that she could end up on the rebuilding WBBM-TV, where top anchor Linda MacLennan departed last week.