June 20, 2000
|Re:||Amendment of Section 73.658(g) of the Commissionís Rules Ė The Dual Network Rule.|
I concur in the Commissionís decision to initiate the instant NPRM to consider modification of the Dual Network Rule as it applies to UPN and the WB. While I would support an NPRM that would also consider repeal of the current rule as it applies to the top four networks, I believe that the record supports this more limited NPRM as an adequate first step. I look forward, however, to continuing to review this rule in our upcoming biennial reviews.
The NPRM seeks comment on whether there are merger conditions that we could impose aimed at maintaining separation between the programming decisions of the two networks while still realizing the efficiencies of the merger. I will state at the outset my skepticism that such conditions are necessary in light of marketplace conditions, that they can be sufficiently narrowly tailored to overcome First Amendment concerns, or that they can be meaningfully enforced. In addition, I am doubtful that generalized conditions created in the context of a rulemaking can address specific concerns raised in the course of a particular merger. I encourage commenters to fully explore these issues.