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Capital Watch

Fritts Sticks at 35%

Despite a change in thinking by at least one of his prominent members, National Association of Broadcasters President Eddie Fritts Wednesday called on the FCC not to give in to network demands for a higher national TV-ownership cap. "In our view, the 35% cap has been good for localism and diversity," he told the Media Institute in Washington Wednesday. Although Belo has told the FCC it could accept a hike in the cap on one company's national reach to 45% of TV households, Fritts said NAB is holding its ground. Asked how much of a hike would prompt an NAB court challenge, Fritts wouldn't say. As for radio-ownership limits, Fritts said the FCC should not alter local-market measurements to reduce the number of stations one company can own in a market.

Been There, Done That, Says Gannett

Responding to criticism from Media Access Project President Andrew Schwartzman that Gannett neither participated in nor covered a recent media-ownership forum in Phoenix, a spokeswoman for the company said it had sent a statement to be read at the hearing, adding that the judgment as to whether to cover the forum had been entirely up to the local Gannett station and newspaper in the market. Schwartzman had been seconding a complaint of undercoverage by FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who called for the series of ownership forums and continues to push for more public input.

Radio License Threatened

The FCC last week upheld a $39,000 fine against KTCM(FM) Kingman, Kan., for failing to comply with a host of safety and operational requirements. The commission is also investigating whether further sanctions are warranted, including revocation of the station's license. Maria Salazar, owner of the station, was ordered to pay the fine after the FCC found the antenna at an unauthorized location and without proper lighting. The station also failed to install Emergency Alert System equipment, maintain a main studio, or keep a public inspection file. Salazar has not responded to a notice of apparent liability for the fine issued last July.