Disney continues to back deregulation

In response to a report that ABC owner The Walt Disney Co. would no longer
continue to push against an effort to roll back the Federal Communications
Commission’s increase of the station-ownership cap to 45% of TV households, the
company’s top lobbyist, Preston Padden, responded Monday: "Disney/ABC continues
to support deregulation of broadcast ownership. But because we are at 24%, the
impact on our company of a rollback to 35% would not be as severe or immediate
as it would be to other networks."

The statement appears to be not so much a change of position as recognition
of political reality and the increasing likelihood that a cap rollback is

Disney was the last of the networks to pull out of the National Association
of Broadcasters over that group’s decision to push for a rollback to the
previous 35% cap. At only 24% coverage, it still has plenty of room to maneuver
under the cap.

Since then, however, the issue has become a hot one on Capitol Hill, with
bipartisan support growing to roll back the cap.

Some positions have become concurrently fluid, with the NAB backing off its
push for 35%, then raising that standard once again as prospects brightened for
a bill that would not also undo other FCC deregulatory moves that the trade
group supported.