SBD/1/Sports Media


     NBC filed petition with the FCC to declare the Fox TV
network "foreign owned and in violation of federal rules."  In
turn, Fox vowed to fight what it called "improper" regulatory
challenges.  NBC's complaint is that while News Corp. Chair
Rupert Murdoch -- a naturalized U.S. citizen -- has the majority
of Fox's voting shares, the company is really controlled by
Murdoch's Australian-based News Corp. (BOSTON HERALD, 12/1).  NBC
General Counsel Richard Cotton: "We've decided to file this
petition to say to the FCC that it is time Fox competed under the
same rules and that the same restrictions apply to all
competitors.  We think that's fair, we think that's the way that
all competitiors and all broadcasters ought to be treated."  USA
TODAY's David Lieberman on NBC's legal resources: "They can push
this case farther than anyone else has so far" ("Market Wrap,"
CNBC, 11/30).  CNN's Kelly Arena reported, "Analysts don't expect
any changes in the [FCC's] 60-year-old ownership rule, and say
that what's really got the other networks going is that Murdoch
has maneuvered FCC law to his advantage"  ("Moneyline," 11/30).
In Boston, Frederic Biddle calls NBC's move "the most dramatic
acknowledgement yet by one of the big three broadcast networks of
the threat posed" by Murdoch and Fox (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/1).
     OTHER MOTIVES:  "If the FCC does nothing, NBC could contend
that it may want to open itself to foreign investors."  GE has
been discussing a deal for the network with Sony Corp. (Kevin
Goldman, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/1).  "The foreign ownership law
stands as one of the few remaining restrictions on communications
ownership in an increasingly global communications age."  FCC
Commissioner James Quello:  "One of our overriding principles has
been that having a fourth [TV] network is in the public interest.
We are trying to promote a multichannel, multifaceted world.  In
order to punish Fox, I think you bear a heavy burden of proof"
(Jube Shriver, L.A. TIMES, 12/1).  One Fox exec also noted:  "It
screws up our station buying" (VARIETY, 12/1).
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