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DirecTV Vows To Monitor Rural Programmer

Satellite programmer DirecTV says that it has gotten assurances from programming provider RFD that it will comply with FCC rules on educational programming suppliers, and has taken steps to ensure compliance.

In April, the FCC asked for public comment on a request by agricultural media producer/distributor Farm Journal that the commission rule its competitor, RFD-TV, does not qualify as an educational programming supplier meeting the requirements for fulfilling satellite operators' FCC-mandated public-interest requirements.

Friday was the deadline for comments, which is where DirecTV outlined its response, which includes requiring RFD to file quarterly reports affirming that its programming meets FCC requirements for educational set-asides, channels reserved for such programming. That includes RFD prescreening its programming.

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 and asked for a declaratory ruling that RFD did not fit the bill.

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.

In its own comments to the FCC Friday, Farm Journal renewed its call for the FCC to rule RFD ineligible, and to take steps to "punish and deter" the conduct.

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.