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CBS: Save Our Service

In its comments for the FCC's ownership hearing Monday CBS said the proceedings had gotten off to a "troubling start."

In championing relaxation of the FCC's media ownership rules in their comments, CBS also argued that the FCC's initial media ownership hearing in L.A. had gotten off to a troubling start. The networks were hammered by producers for using their deregulatory status to squeeze out independents, leverage bigger cuts of a programs lucrative back end and quell creativity, they said.

"The first public 'hearings' [CBS put the word in quotes] were filled with invective and emotion rather than fact and intellectually rigorous analysis," said CBS, and thus represented testimony that did not meet the "legal standard" for an "expert agency."

CBS pointed out that there has now been no alteration of the local TV ownership rules since 1999, while competition has exploded (the FCC tried to change the rules in 2003, but a federal appeals court put the breaks on and, in 2004, called for the new review now being undertaken in concert with a congressionally mandated review of all the FCC's rules.

Echoing other commenters that that media voices have expanded dramatically just in the three years since the court stayed the rules in 2003, CBS said "regulations tailored to the marketplace conditions of what is, relatively speaking, ancient history have little relevance to today's rapidly evolving and immensely varied media environment."

CBS said the FCC should also not lose sight of what is at stake in the rule review, which, echoing NBC's comments, it said was nothing less than the preservation of local news, information and entertainment, "free to all Americans."

CBS cited local broadcasting as a source of emergency information--invoking Hurricane Katrina and 9/11--and a vital news link "infused with public interest responsibilities," whose loss would be tragic.