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General Electric Co.’s NBC Television unit on July 20 asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to overturn a rule that prevents one network from owning stations that reach more than 35% of U.S. households. “We believe that formulation of the standard is nonsensical and legally indefensible,” said NBC general counsel and executive vice president Rick Cotton when interviewed about the matter. “The standard is based on the theoretical potential viewership of the stations NBC owns. It completely ignores any effort to consider the actual viewership of those stations.” Cotton said no other industry is regulated based on a theoretical market share as opposed to an actual market share. All the major networks criticized the station ownership restriction during congressional hearings last fall. The FCC considered changing the rule this spring, but opted instead to leave the restriction in place. NBC is challenging the regulator’s decision not to amend the rule. All challenges to FCC rules are filed with the appeals court. Cotton predicted victory. “Given the extraordinary increase in competition in the market place, it is our view that the ability of the FCC to defend it in court is limited,” he said. Copyright �2000 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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