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Information please

The FCC has told Fox Television Stations it will need more financial information if it is to be convinced that the New York Post's survival will be endangered if parent News Corp. is forced to sell the newspaper when Fox acquires a second New York City TV station. Fox is asking the FCC to expand its waiver exempting News Corp. from the newspaper/broadcast crossownership ban when WWOR-TV is added to its New York stable as part of Fox's purchase of the Chris-Craft station group. Fox must provide detailed information on the Post's finances by April 18.

Voicing disapproval

The television and movie industries last week asked federal judges to strike down FCC rules requiring TV programming to feature spoken descriptions of on-screen action. The rules, created to help blind people, go beyond FCC authority and are an unconstitutional "scheme of compelled speech," say the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable Television Association and the Motion Picture Association of America.

Save our service

Congressional supporters of public broadcasting have formed a 70-member caucus on Capitol Hill to protect the service's interests. The bipartisan group is chaired by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Amo Houghton (R-N.Y.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Connie Morella (R-Md.) and Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.). The caucus comes together at a time when public broadcasting is seeking additional financial support from Congress for its transition to digital.

Court plows ahead

The satellite TV industry last week celebrated a minor victory in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Alexandria, Va. The court decided not to delay a decision on whether it is unconstitutional for satellite carriers to be required to carry all local broadcasters in any local markets they serve.

The National Association of Broadcasters and the government had asked the court to hold off on a ruling until decisions emerged from the FCC and a federal district court, two venues that also are considering the question. Powell inclined to relax restrictions FCC Chairman Michael Powell told B&C last week he is inclined to relax broadcast-ownership restrictions. "You will see them tested," he said. But Powell pointed out that his is just one of five votes on the commission when all seats are filled. He said he hopes that the administration by May would nominate three commissioners to fill the one existing vacancy and two anticipated vacancies and that they would be confirmed by Congress prior to its August recess.

NAB joins suit

The National Association of Broadcasters last week asked for "intervenor" standing in a Canadian copyright suit against Internet TV broadcaster JumpTV. If the Canadian court grants the request, NAB will be able to participate in the case almost as if it were a plaintiff.

JumpTV is an Internet broadcaster that claims to have technology that limits Internet access to local broadcast signals. NAB says JumpTV's technology is untested and not proven to be capable of preventing widespread leaks of transmissions back into the United States."