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In industry’s corner

Mar 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the new chairman of the House subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet, made clear last week that he’s a strong friend of broadcasters.
Among his priorities this year is torpedoing a Bush administration proposal to impose an analog spectrum fee on television broadcasters to spur their transition to digital.
“In my view, broadcasters already face enough obstacles in that transition. The so-called squatters tax is piling on,” he said last week during a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters State Leadership Conference in Washington, drawing rousing applause.
“As one who likes sports, we’re going to be throwing the flag on that one,” he said.
Although he supports campaign finance reform, he opposes free airtime for politicians. “When would viewers have a chance to see the programming?” if TV stations carry all the free ads politicians would want to run, he quipped.
He will also fight efforts to weaken a new law that curbs the licensing of low-power FM radio stations.
“I’m going to be the goalie on this issue. No bill which would slacken those safeguards is going to get passed by me,” he said.
In addition, he wants to remove the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership restrictions.
“In today’s incredibly competitive marketplace, augmented by many new sources of influence with cable and the Internet, the respective restrictions are long outdated,” he said.
The NAB is tied with four other organizations as the 20th-largest campaign contributor to Mr. Upton during the course of his political career, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington watchdog.
Other priorities for the lawmaker:
* Protecting kids and families from graphic images on television and the Internet.
* Preventing the unauthorized copying of digital TV signals.
* Revamping the Federal Communications Commission and reining in its merger-review authority.