Alphabet rejoins org for first time since its 2003 departure

WASHINGTON — Last of the four big nets to leave the National Assn. of Broadcasters, Disney/ABC is the first to rejoin the lobbying org, announcing Wednesday its intention to bring its 10 television stations and 70 radio stations back into the NAB fold.

“ABC believes that the best interests of our industry, our company and ultimately the viewing public can be promoted by returning to the NAB at this time,” said Preston Padden, Disney’s exec veep for worldwide government relations, in a statement. “With policy differences now behind us, ABC and NAB are once again in a position to work together towards our important common goals.”

Disney/ABC withdrew from NAB in 2003 over differences involving ownership limits. The Mouse and the other three nets advocated raising limits; rest of the membership opposed it. NBC, CBS and Fox had already withdrawn over the same issue by the time of Disney/ABC’s departure. Congress has since passed legislation capping at 39% the market penetration of any one broadcaster.

NAB topper Edward O. Fritts welcomed the announcement with open arms, saying in a statement, “This is great news for NAB, ABC and the entire broadcast industry. There is no denying that we are stronger as an industry when we are united.”

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