Nets slam affils' rights to drop shows


The Big Four networks Monday urged the FCC to revive a dormant plan to relax government rules that guarantee affiliates the right to reject net programming.

The four networks' comments were prompted by a petition in March filed by the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance charging that the nets violated FCC rules governing the relations between the programming webs and independently owned stations that air their programming. NASA contends that FCC rules confer only "rights without obligations on affiliates," CBS said in its comments.

Like the other nets, CBS yesterday denied specific allegations of rules violations leveled by NASA attorneys. NASA had charged that CBS violated the right to reject rule by requiring affiliates' to carry all covered events in the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics or lose all rights to air the games.

NBC charged that the affiliates were seeking a government shield to protect them from "economic realities" and urged the FCC to eliminate rules the net says interfere with contract negotiations. "NASA has unwittingly placed the network/affiliate rules themselves under the spotlight of public interest scrutiny," Fox added.

Proposals to relax the rules have been pending for six years but the FCC has not acted. - Bill McConnell