FCC Rejects Bid to Restore US TV Content Rule

16 June 2003

A coalition of media owners and agencies has failed to reinstate a US law governing the origin of TV programming.

The Coalition for Program Diversity – whose members include Sony Pictures Television and Grey Global Group’s MediaCom – wants the Federal Communications Commission to retain a longstanding rule that forces the four largest television networks to source at least 25% of primetime shows from independent producers.

However, the FCC has formally rejected the request, revealing that the law was scrapped as part of the wide-ranging reform of media regulations approved at the start of the month [WAMN: 03-Jun-03]. This particular provision has hitherto not been made public.

The Commission decided there was no evidence that having more shows from independent producers increased diversity of programming. It pointed out that the networks still had the power to decide what was shown, whatever the source.

The big four networks – ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS – are staunchly opposed to the law, arguing that the Coalition has adopted “a curiously narrow concept of diversity that favors their self-interest while ignoring the perspectives and interests of viewers and the proven benefits of competition free of government intervention.”

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff