Broadcasters face a number of brewing battles in D.C.

In a sign of the complexity of the policy issues that TV station owners are facing in Washington, CBS and Fox have rejoined the National Assn. of Broadcasters lobbying org.

“The interests of our industry, our company and our viewers are best served by speaking with one voice on Capitol Hill, at the FCC and in the courts,” said Fox TV Stations CEO Jack Abernethy.

Fox withdrew its membership from the org in 1999. CBS left in 2001. At the time News Corp. and then-CBS parent Viacom withdrew in protest of the NAB’s stance on the FCC’s TV station ownership restrictions. That issue has become mostly moot for CBS and Fox as both have voluntarily trimmed the number of stations they own amid a changing market landscape.

But broadcasters are facing a number of brewing battles in D.C., including the prospect of returning spectrum to the FCC to facilitate the expansion of broadband service as part of the implementation of the National Broadband Plan. There’s also a fight shaping up over possible revisions to the legislation involving retransmission consent rights. Those retrans deals have recently started to pay off big in cash for broadcasters, but cable and satellite operators are pushing at the FCC for changes that might limit stations’ upside.

With CBS and Fox back, the NAB once again reps the Big Four networks along with the rest of the largest broadcast station groups. It’s a big win for Gordon Smith, the former Oregon senator who was tapped as NAB prexy in November.

“We look forward to adding CBS’ voice to NAB’s efforts to preserve and enhance broadcasting on behalf of the public we serve,” said Martin Franks, CBS’ exec veep of planning, policy and government affairs.

Abernethy and Franks will serve as Fox and CBS’ reps on the NAB’s board of directors.

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