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FCC to hash out cap's fate

Federal Communications Commission staff will leave it to the big bosses to
make the politically charged decision of whether to retain or raise the
35 percent cap on TV-household reach.

Media Bureau Chief Ken Ferree told reporters Thursday that his team will not
make a formal recommendation on the fate of the cap.

"There are strong arguments on both sides, and it could go either way," he

His reluctance to make the call indicated that the TV-reach limit is among
the most contentious issues of the FCC's media-ownership review, which is also
examining local broadcast-ownership limits, restrictions on media cross-ownership
and the dual-network rule.

Unlike other rules, debate of the 35 percent cap has split the broadcast

The large broadcast networks have made elimination of the rule their top
priority, while affiliate groups and independent stations are fighting just as
hard to keep the networks from getting larger and more powerful.

Supporters of the cap predicted that the lack of Media Bureau recommendation to
increase it increases chances that the commissioners will keep the current

Opponents questioned whether retention can be defended in court without a staff
analysis supporting the cap.