The National Association of Broadcasters will continue supporting, albeit reluctantly, a requirement that broadcasters transmit a minimal amount of public-interest programming in exchange for deregulation of the television industry.
However, NAB President Edward Fritts warned that the association would refuse to accept such a standard for radio and would move to kill any measure where the standard was seen as too strict,
The so-called public-interest quantification standard "has been linked with the level of competition, and radio is certainly competitive enough," said John Sommers, NAB's vice president of public affairs.
The House subcommittee on telecommunications, finance and consumer protection is considering the standard as part of an overall bill deregulating the industry. Legislation is expected before the full House Commerce and Energy Committee in October.
NAB officials disclosed that they had met with House Committee Chairman John Dingell (D--Mich.) on Thursday and were "encouraged" by the discussion.
"John Dingell is the person going to be making the decisions," said Sommers.
On an embarrassing note, NAB President Fritts said the association has launched an internal investigation to discover how an unexpected and potentially damaging research survey managed to be presented at the NAB's national convention last March.
The survey, commissioned by the NAB's research vice president at that time, Larry Patrick, suggested that the number of broadcast viewers was eroding and that television was losing out to the newer media such as cable. The report snared wide media attention. Patrick left the NAB prior to the presentation.