A key Federal Communications Commission rule that threatens to force Viacom to sell off some of the CBS TV stations included in its deal for CBS is under attack in Congress. U.S. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) has proposed legislation that would let one company own broadcast stations reaching 50% of the U.S. audience. The FCC now limits any owner from reaching more than 35%, a level that would likely force some Viacom sales. Sen. McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has offered sim~ilar legislation before, and an aide said the latest bill is unrelated to the Viacom deal. Sen. McCain also proposed to drop the ban on newspapers buying broadcast properties in their markets. The senator said he believes current ownership rules haven't changed to reflect the growth of cable and other competitors.
Copyright September 1999, Crain Communications Inc.