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Upton bashes Bush's analog fees

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the new chairman of the House telecommunications and Internet subcommittee, said he is "throwing a red flag" on President George W. Bush's proposal to levy analog spectrum fees on broadcasters, speaking before a luncheon crowd at the National Association of Broadcasters State Convention on Monday.

"I have real heartburn" on this subject, Upton said. "In my view, broadcasters already face enough obstacles in the transition. A so-called `squatters' tax' would be piling on." Upton also laid out his mass-media agenda for the first time, focusing on the transition to digital television, violence on television, low-power FM and television deregulation.

Besides opposing Bush's proposed spectrum fee, Upton also pushed the FCC to address broadcasters' copyright concerns to be sure they have access to "quality digital programming." He opposed any efforts to reverse a bill passed by Congress last year that only allows limited licensing of low-power radio stations. He said he would push to get rid of a rule that prohibits companies from owning both a TV station and a newspaper in the same market.

Finally, Upton said he plans to "continue to monitor the impact of violence that comes to our kids through a number of mediums." Broadcasters were pleased with the speech, interrupting several times to applaud. - Paige Albiniak