Disney To Test FCC on Kids TV Rules


Walt Disney Co. went to court Tuesday to require the FCC to respond to various complaints about its new kids programming rules before it implements them Jan. 1.

The TV and entertainment giant asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. to require the FCC to rule on petitions to change its rules by Nov. 15, given that the rules are to take effect Jan. 1.
 "We believe the new Kids TV and Website rules should not become effective until the substantial legal and fairness issues have been addressed by the FCC, by ruling on the pending Petitions For Reconsideration, and/or by review in Court," said ABC in a statement. 
While saying it remains "steadfastly dedicated to providing creative, entertaining and compelling programming that enriches the lives of children," Disney says the kids rules as written would cause "irreparable harm to its First Amendment rights, as well as unrecoverable economic losses."

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.

Disney says it would have to make major modifications to its business to comply, then would have to undo those if the FCC ultimately decide to change the rules per the petitions it has yet to rule on.

The rules were released in fall 2004. Disney, Viacom and other programmersasked the FCC to amend them.

Both the United Church of Christ Office of Communications and Viacom last week withdrew their FCC petitions for review of the rules, asking separate federal courts instead to throw them out or remand them as arbitrary and capricious.

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.

By contrast, the United Church of Christ took the rules to court 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.