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Sununu Staffer: Congress Could Tackle Ownership

A staffer for Senator John Sununu (R-N.H.) told broadcasters Monday he expected Congress to weigh in with  help on some media ownership issues rather than necessarily wait for the FCC to recraft its ownership  rules.

Speaking at a National Association of Broadcasters State Leadership Conference in Washington Monday, legislative assistant Mike O'Reilly said that the Senator was interested in brining media ownership limits, like the ban on newspaper/station crossownership, "in line with market realities."

O'Reilly said there was a "great deal" of common ground among a number of legislators that current ownership restrictions "don't make sense."  He is not sure how many of the ownership elements they will be willing to bite off, perhaps confining it to newspaper/broadcast crossownership.

"I think you will see Congress step in on this front," he said. One avenue could be the  omnibus revamp of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which is being marked up in the Senate next month. 
The FCC tried to get rid of the newspaper/crossownership ban and loosen other ownership rules back in 2003, but a court almost two years ago stayed the generally deregulatory rules, saying the FCC had not sufficiently justified them.

The FCC has still not come up with a revise following disagreements over how and how much public input to solicit, how much to spend on new studies, commissioner attrition and turnover, and the impact of Katrina on government timetables.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.