The last of the big three commercial networks has dropped out of the NAB. Last week, ABC— now owned by the Walt Disney Company— said goodbye to the broadcast lobbyist organization in a dispute over the national cap on station ownership.
In the end, it was the same issue that led CBS, NBC and Fox to drop NAB memberships. Despite complaints from the networks, the NAB insisted on fighting to retain a 35 percent television station ownership cap. The networks supported the FCC’s recent initiative to raise the limit to allow broadcasters to buy stations that can reach more than 45 percent of the nation’s TV homes.
Disney Executive Vice President Preston Padden told NAB head Eddie Fritts that ABC has remained an NAB member with hopes that the organization would drop the ownership caps issue.
“We have now abandoned that hope,” Padden said, accusing affiliate stations of using the NAB as a “weapon in their jihad” against the networks. “For two years, we have endured (and helped pay for) a nonstop stream of network-bashing letters, lobbying and legal filing,” Padden said. “The NAB and public policy process in Washington should not be abused to advance the business interests of one broadcaster over another.”
Padden noted that the NAB had sided with the affiliates. “Disney/ABC has gone the extra mile (and then some) to try to salvage the unity previously represented by the NAB,” Padden said. “We can try no more. With genuine sorrow, we hereby resign all of our stations and networks from membership in the NAB.”