The National Assn. of Broadcasters last week was ordered by its TV board of directors to remain neutral when Congress and the FCC consider relaxing TV ownership rules, setting off a flurry of activity among station owners trying to influence regulators and legislators.

The neutrality directive came after the TV Board failed to bridge a chasm that pits the pro-deregulatory networks and Tribune Broadcasting against affiliate and smaller-market stations’ insistence on preservation of rules that they claim preserve localism and diversity.

With NAB now a non-factor on the lobbying front, broadcasters are scrambling to fill the lobbying void. The Network Affiliate Station Assn., which represents web affils, will meet this week in D.C. to consider hiring a fulltime lobbyist to press its case.

NASA supports retention of rules that prohibit a group owner from reaching more than 25% of U.S. TV homes with owned-and-operated stations. NASA is also opposed to lifting rules that bar common ownership of cable and broadcast properties in the same market, and NASA representatives will meet in D.C. this week to firm up other positions on relaxing ownership rules.

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