ANA Joins Viacom Kids Rule Challenge - Broadcasting & Cable

ANA Joins Viacom Kids Rule Challenge

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The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has informed the FCC that, like Viacom, it is withdrawing its petition criticizing the digital kids TV rules and will join Viacom in its court challenge to those rules.

ANA initially raised concerns with the rules in a joint filing with the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and the American Advertising Federation. The AAAA's will keep its challenge at the FCC, said Adonis Hoffman, senior VP and council for AAAA. No word from the AFA, whose petition is still at the commission.

The rules include treating show promos no differently than commercials when counting how many ads networks can aim at kids each hour. They would also prevent shows from including Web links to products pitched by their characters.

Viacom argued that the rules should be vacated entirely because they exceed the commission's authority, are unconstitutional, violate administrative procedures, and are "otherwise contrary to law." It sought review from the deregulatory-minded D. C. circuit.

Dan Jaffe, executive VP of ANA, said the rules could "undermine the economic foundations of children's programming," chasing advertisers out of the category or causing cutbacks in the dollars that support commercial children's programming. "There are also substantial First Amendment issues," he says, saying the rules clearly burden speech based on content," and thus must receive the highest level of First Amendment scrutiny," a level he doesn't think it can meet.

Jaffe is also concerned with the restrictions on Web site links in kids shows, saying the restrictions could cause "major overhauls" to Internet sites "just as we are trying to figure out how to do this.

Disney has taken a separate tack to its rules challenge, asking the D.C. Circuit to force the FCC's hand on the various petitions before it.

The company had asked the court last week to force the FCC by Nov. 15 to rule on Disney and others' petitions to change the kids regs, or alternatively to enjoin the FCC from enforcing them until the commission did reply.

Instead, the court gave the FCC until Oct. 25 to respond to the Disney petition, then gave Disney until Nov. 1 to reply.

The United Church of Christ took the rules to court as well, but for a very different reason--because they did not go far enough, including the lack of a total ban on interactive advertising and issues with the preemptions of kids programming the rules allow. The church sought review in the sixth circuit, whose jurisdiction includes Ohio, where the church has its headquarters.

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