New network affiliate agreement reached

June 16, 2008

A new network affiliate relation agreement has been submitted to the FCC that would eliminate the need for the commission’s involvement in the relationship between networks and stations. Representatives of ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and local stations submitted it last week.

A key part of the agreement gives affiliated stations the right to reject or pre-empt network programming without fear of reprisal because they are the government-licensed arbiters of community standards and community interest. There is also an option time rule, which prohibits a station from giving away (or being forced to give away) programming time to another party, even if that other party is the network. The latter issue had come to a head with the development of stations’ secondary digital channels, “Television Week” reported.

“The agreement among the affiliate associations and their respective networks resulting in the new joint request is the product of very constructive discussions among the parties,” said a joint statement. “It also reflects a mutual recognition that we, as affiliates and networks, must renew our efforts to work together to address common issues, whether internal matters or the external challenges we face in an ever more competitive media landscape.”

The networks and the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance (NASA) joined to ask the FCC to ratify the principles they had agreed to in the interest of “avoiding future controversies.”

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