FOX TRIUMPHS IN FCC RULING

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Wrapping up more than a year of investigating Rupert Murdoch, the Federal Communications Commission last week unanimously affirmed Fox's foreign ownership as in the public interest.

The FCC also voted to end TV's prime-time access rule after a transition period that ends Aug. 30, 1996, a blow to syndicators of first-run programming.

The Fox ruling comes as a major victory for Mr. Murdoch, News Corp.'s chairman-CEO. Without a waiver, Mr. Murdoch had said his companies could have faced a tax hit of up to $720 million to come into compliance with a law that generally limits foreign ownership to 25% of a U.S. broadcast station. Australia-based News Corp. now can continue controlling more than 99% of Fox's equity.

The FCC held that it would be "inequitable" to require Fox to restructure because the agency's rules on the foreign ownership issue had not been clear in 1985, when the company was formed.

In a statement, Mr. Murdoch said, "Despite the best efforts of our commercial adversaries and political enemies, our good name has been restored."

The positive ruling followed by about a week Mr. Murdoch's four-day worldwide executive management meeting for 150 top executives on Hayman Island off the eastern coast of Australia.

While most of the local press attention focused on the appearance by British Labor Party leader Tony Blair at the conference, more crucial decisions were probably reached in the backroom discussions following the address by MCI Communications Corp. CEO Bert Roberts. The first leg of the deal involving a $1 billion investment by MCI into News Corp. is expected to close this week.

Among important details to emerge from the meeting:

Delphi Internet Services is expected to be renamed soon as part of its September relaunch.

The New York Post is expected to continue to make New York City's outer borough of Queens a battleground and a test for the staying power of Times Mirror's Newsday.

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