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FOX AND NBC SLUG IT OUT OVER PEACOCK'S FCC CHALLENGE
Published December 1, 1994
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).