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Nets denounce `red herring' complaints

Big networks pushing to raise national limits on TV-station ownership
denounced affiliates' attempts to paint them as bullies.

The affiliates, under the auspices of the National Association of
Broadcasters and the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance, have made three "red
herring" arguments in favor of retaining today's 35 percent cap on TV-household
reach that are "unsupported, ill-considered and irrelevant," Fox, CBS and NBC
told the Federal Communications Commission in an April 21 filing.

No. 1: Despite affiliates' assertions that they are better-equipped to gauge
tastes and needs of local communities, the networks' owned-and-operated station managers are given
equal, if not more, credence when advising corporate officials on local
programming needs.

No. 2: Whereas affiliates trumpet their willingness to pre-empt network
programs for local shows, networks countered that pre-emptions are a rarity at all
stations and any uptick among affiliates is due to infomercials rather than
local programming.

No. 3: Claims that multiple ownership increases negotiation leverage are
incorrect. In reality, bargaining leverage varies market-by-market.

On the other side of the issue, NAB/NASA countered that two economic studies,
a survey of stations and other analyses showed that affiliates perform better than
O&Os when it comes to addressing local needs and that affiliates are
increasingly limited by network contracts from pre-empting national feeds for local