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CBS and Infinity Broadcasting Quit NAB

News, 05 April 2001

CBS and Infinity Broadcasting, the television and radio divisions of media group Viacom, have withdrawn from the National Association of Broadcasters over the latter’s support of a federal ownership limit on TV stations.

At issue is the law forbidding TV broadcasters from owning stations which reach over 35% of US households. Networks want to see the limit raised or removed so that they can acquire more of their local affiliates, many of which support the cap as a bulwark against network encroachment.

The NAB, whose membership and finance is dominated by the affiliates, has traditionally supported the 35% cap, much to the chagrin of networks – CBS’s withdrawal follows the departure of NewsCorp’s Fox TV and General Electric’s NBC in the last two years.

“For some time we have called for the elimination of the national broadcast-ownership cap as well as other outmoded regulatory constraints on broadcasters,” stated the Viacom-owned duo. “It has now become clear that we cannot remain within an organization that is actively working against those objectives.”

Walt Disney-owned network ABC, widely tipped to be the next departure from the NAB, announced that they had not yet decided whether to follow CBS’s example.

News source: Wall Street Journal