The Fox network Wednesday told the Federal Communications Commission it would amend affiliation contracts with local TV stations. Fox has long maintained that its restrictions do not interfere with stations' right to reject network shows when they believe the content inappropriate for their local audiences.
Fox made the changes "to clarify that affiliates have great latitude to preempt programming on the ground of objectionable or allegedly indecent content," network CEO Tony Vinciquerra told the FCC in a letter Wednesday.
Fox says its only intent has been to prohibit preemptions when affiliates thought alternative programming would make them more money. For instance, Fox officials say they oppose letting affiliates replace a network show when a syndicated program would be more profitable.
Fox and other big broadcast nets have been feuding with the affiliates, represented by the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance, over the right to reject and other terms of affiliation contracts.
The networks maintain that affiliates have always had the right to reject programs on matters of taste.
The indecency crackdown helped push the NASA petition to the front burner when some broadcasters complained that network contracts prevented them from preempting some indecent shows.
CBS settled its disagreement with NASA previously. Fox's decision comes as the FCC draws close to settling NASA's request to rule some specific network practices out of bounds.
The FCC's decision is expected to strengthen affiliates' preemption rights. NASA attorneys were reviewing Fox's letter late Wednesday and could not comment.