Telecom accord reached; GOP raises concerns

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A day after top House and Senate negotiators said they had at last struck a compromise over the telecommunications reform legislation, the plan once again seemed to be in flux on Thursday. The bill would allow cable TV and local and long-distance companies to get into each others' businesses, winning support from broadcasters and cable and local Bell telephone companies.

However, the propsed deal is far less deregulatory than the networks and many key House GOP officials had hoped. Even as the proposal was getting rave reviews from the White House, it was being planned by some House Reupublicans, raising concerns about its ultimate prospects.

"It [the proposed compromise] is not going ot have good standing among House Republicans right now," House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R.-Texas told reporters Thursday. "We got too many people who don't like too many provisions."

Under the proposed deal, national broadcast TV ownership would be capped at 35 percent. The deal also would abolish the one-to-a-market rule in the top 50 markets. That regulation currently bars broadcasters from buying TV and radio stations in the same market. But though it would grandfather existing LMAs, it would not provide relief from duopoly restrictions that many broadcasters had sought.

It also struck lanuguage that would have barred the FCC from tightening up so-called attribution rules that some allege allow broadcasters to evade the agency's ownership limits.

But as of press time, the only lawmakers who had signed offo on the deal were Sens. Larry Pressler, R-S.D., and Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., and Reps. Tom Bliley, R-Va., and John Dingell, D-Mich.

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