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Is Fox Foreign? Don't Be So Sure


Up Front

IS FOX FOREIGN? DON'T BE SO SURE

Don't worry, Rupert, about that Federal Communications Commission inquiry into charges that your emerging fourth TV network violates limits on foreign ownership. To the distress of Rupert Murdoch's enemies, particularly CBS, a top FCC official says that the allegation is a "nonstarter."

Murdoch, an Australian-born U.S. citizen, paid $510,000 in 1985 for 51% ownership of six Metromedia stations, which became affiliates of his Fox Broadcasting. Murdoch-controlled News Corp., based in Sydney, paid $1.6 billion for just a 24% share. But then, the NAACP, pushing for African-American station ownership, complained to the FCC earlier this year. CBS, upset about its recent loss of pro football and affiliates to Fox, seems gleeful.

Word at the FCC, though, is that it's not necessarily in the public interest to zap Fox by making it sell its stations. And the feds likely won't even act on the foreign-ownership question.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT AND JULIE TILSNER Mark Lewyn


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