Nets Fight Kids' Web-Link Ban


Major TV networks are balking at Federal Communications Commission restrictions that kick in Feb. 1 restricting the display of Web-site addresses during children’s programming.
Corporate owners of the big four broadcast nets, Turner Broadcasting, Time Warner, Discovery and Nickelodeon, are asking the FCC to delay until Jan. 1, 2006, implementation of the restrictions, which ban the airing of addresses of commercial sites.

A rule approved by the FCC in September would limit the current practice of broadcasters who display Web-site addresses in a crawl at the bottom of the screen.
The FCC permits these displays during programming directed to kids 12 and under only if the Web site is not primarily intended for commercial purposes and the site contains a “substantial amount” of program-related or other noncommercial content.
A related restriction that would limit interactive links that direct a viewer directly from the TV program to a website is still under consideration by the commission.

The broadcasters complained in a letter to the FCC last week that the restrictions on simple displays of Web sites was unexpected and they do not have compliance programs in place to make sure that only addresses noncommercial sites are displayed.

“Our companies were unprepared for the decision to regulate non-interactive Web site displays almost immediately,” they said in their filing.