Allbritton, Media General and McGraw Hill are not going along with the networks’ deal on educational kids TV for multicast. They want an exemption for news and weather channels.
To head off more legal and regulatory wrangling, the broadcast networks last December reached an agreement with kids TV advocates in which the networks agreed to go along with new FCC rules that require stations to air three hours of educational kids programming each week on every one of their digital multicast channels.
The board of the National Association of Broadcasters subsequently gave its blessing to the deal, and the FCC reopened the rules to codify the new deal, which includes some minor revisions that the networks asked for as part of the quid pro quo.
So everything is all set. Well, not quite.
At least three prominent broadcast groups will ask the FCC on Monday to exempt from the three-hour-a-week requirement digital channels devoted to weather, news or other “public interest programming.”
Represented by Dow, Lohnes & Albertson, the ad hoc Local Broadcasters Alliance comprises Allbritton Communications, Media General and McGraw-Hill Broadcasting.
Jerry Fritz, Allbritton’s senior vice president for legal and strategic affairs, says the rules need “real world flexibility.”
Channels promising news or weather 24/7 will lose viewership if people tune in to find children’s programming, he said. It’s “counterproductive” to force children’s programming on these channels, he said.
The Alliance is also concerned that, in the absence of a multicast must-carry rule, they may have trouble persuading cable operators to carry their news-and-information channels if they are interrupted by children’s programming.
The FCC has asked for comments on the networks’ deal with the kids TV advocates. The Alliance’s objections will be among them.