MAP Asks FCC To Brand Rural Programmer

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Media Access Project wants the FCC to declare DBS programmer RFD Communications a commercial service and ineligible for the protected status of a public-interest channel.

Competitor Farm Journal Inc. had asked the FCC for a declaratory ruling that RFD was a commercial entity, and the Washington-based MAP agreed, saying the FCC should label RDF a commcercial service and put EchoStar and DirecTV on notice that they will be "held accountable" for continuing to carry RFD as one of its set-aside channels.

Last month, the commission asked for public comment on the request by agricultural media producer/distributor Farm Journal that it rule RFD-TV does not meet the requirements for fulfilling satellite operators' FCC-mandated public-interest requirements.

Farm Journal, which distributes TV programs AgDay and U.S. Farm Report, filed a raft of supporting material with the FCC to back up its claim.

Farm Journal alleges that RFD-TV airs commericals and should be ineligible for the public-interest channel set-aside, which is reserved for "qualified nonprofit organizations or noncommercial educational entities." Meeting that test is an advantage to any programming service, since satellite operators are required by the commission to carry a certain number of such channels.

RFD is a Nashville-based 24/7 programming service targeted to rural America and carried on DISH and DirecTV with programming that includes rural and agricultural news.

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