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McCain, Tauzin plug peace for nets, indies

Leaders of the House and Senate Commerce Committee's are attempting to
negotiate a voluntary deal that will ensure that programs created by independent
producers find their way onto major network lineups.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain announced Thursday that he and
Rep. Billy Tauzin, his House counterpart, will host talks between the four major
broadcast networks and members of the creative community.

The aim is to avoid a regulatory solution, such as a 25% prime time carve-out
for non-network-owned shows, which independent producers had been seeking from
the Federal Communications Commission.

Encouraged by the initiative, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), withdrew an amendment
from the Senate Commerce Committee's media ownership vote Thursday that would
have forced a carve-out.

John Rintels, head of the Center for the Creative Community, said he was
optimistic lawmaker pressure would convince the networks to reach a deal.

"By calling this meeting, McCain and Tauzin sent a very strong message to the
nets that this issue needs to be addressed," Rintels said.