Capitol Calls for Previewing Network Fare

A North Carolina-based TV-station group that refused to air Fox Television Network’s raunchy Married by America is endorsing the call for the right to preview network programming before it can reach the public.

Capitol Broadcasting Co. Inc. -- which owns the Fox affiliate in the Raleigh, N.C., market -- told the Federal Communications Commission Monday that obtaining preview rights should be secured by contract talks or by FCC rule if those talks are fruitless.

“This problem could be (and probably should be) addressed contractually between an affiliate and its network. If not, the [FCC] should adopt rules supporting an affiliate’s right to preview,” Capitol special-projects counsel Diane Smith said in a two-page FCC submission.

Last month, the FCC proposed fining 169 Fox stations a combined $1.2 million for airing Married by America, which, the agency said, contained indecent material, including sexually suggestive scenes of party-goers licking whipped cream from strippers’ bodies.

The Fox program aired in April 2003. Capitol dropped the program before that episode because the company considered the show demeaning to the institution of marriage.

Capitol’s call for previewing network programming was an endorsement of Pappas Telecasting Cos., which told the FCC last month that it needed to see network programming in order to determine whether it was indecent, obscene or both.

Pappas also called for the regulation of violent programming on cable TV and on all other forms of mass communications.