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FCC boss to protect free TV

Ensuring the preservation of over-the-air radio and TV will be a top priority for Reed Hundt in his new post as FCC chairman, he told broadcasters attending the National Assn. of Broadcasters convention Wednesday.

Speaking via satellite from Buenos Aires, Hundt said that during his tenure, the Federal Communications Commission “will work hard to preserve everywhere in our country strong, diverse, creative, free, over-the-air broadcast service.”

The FCC also will look favorably on broadcast industry proposals to make flexible use of the radio spectrum, Hundt said, so long as stations don’t shirk their public interest obligations.

“If you proposed innovative techniques for exploiting scarce spectrum without jeopardizing your role as public trustees, we will examine your proposals with eagerness,” Hundt said.

Broadcasters are pushing for legislation granting them the spectrum flexibility to multiplex their channel.

Hundt promised to pay “studious attention to the competitive realities for terrestrial broadcasters” as the FCC eyes the advent of digital audio broadcasting. In addition, he said, the practical economic considerations of broadcasters will be taken into account as the FCC considers enacting tougher kidvid rules.

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