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As Complicated as ABC

Aug 18, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Last week’s exclusive report in TelevisionWeek stating that The Walt Disney Co. representatives let Capitol Hill know that Disney had decided to stop burning political capital on the effort to block legislation to roll back the cap on national TV ownership to 35 percent came as a shocker to the other networks. A surprised executive at another network said he called and Disney representatives were quick to assure them that the company still supported deregulation. At the same time, Disney pointed out last week in its official statement on the subject that the cap is of less importance to it than the other networks for the following reason: Disney’s ABC has ample room to grow under a 35 percent cap, while CBS, NBC and Fox are already either at or above the mark. “Disney/ABC continues to support deregulation of broadcast ownership,” Disney said in its statement. “But because we are at 24 percent, the impact on our company of a rollback to 35 percent would not be as severe or immediate as it would be to the other networks.” Said an official for one of Disney’s network rivals, who asked not to be identified, “It was viewed as a craven attempt by Disney to curry favor with Wall Street. They went for the self-interest.” A Disney executive declined comment. n