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ABC Affils Oppose News Exemption for Flag

ABC affiliates have joined their NBC and CBS counterparts in pleading with the Federal Communications Commission not to exempt news and public-affairs programming from the broadcast-flag regime for blocking Internet transmission of broadcast-digital-TV programming.

"News and public affairs is central both to the financial viability of local broadcast stations, as well as to its role in the community," the ABC Television Affiliates Association wrote in an Oct. 22 letter to FCC chairman Michael Powell. NBC and CBS affiliates sent similar appeals to the commission earlier this month.

The National Association of Broadcasters echoed the appeals Monday.

The FCC is expected this week to approve rules requiring digital TVs and storage equipment to recognize the flag -- a code embedded in programming that instructs devices to block transmission over computer networks.

Although several commissioners' offices have denied it, rumors persisted in Washington, D.C., that news will be exempt from the flag's protections in order to permit individuals to retransmit news clips and to boost dissemination of news programming.