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NASA Balks at Fox Contract

Network affiliates told the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday that although all four major networks have been responsive to affiliate concerns and have amended or will amend their affiliation contracts, there are still issues that require FCC action.

Most of those surround ability to reject network programming, but a couple involve Fox and the amended affiliation agreement it filed with the FCC last month. In it, says NASA, Fox requires stations to carry, in addition to its traditional programming anything, including digital programming or data, that Fox puts in the pipe.

Or, as the contract reads, "any other information data, material or matter sent, transmitted or otherwise communicated by Fox with the intent that it be perceived or otherwise received, visually or visually and aurally, by television receiver, television monitor or any other device or equipment whatsoever now known or hereafter devised."

By contrast, NASA says, Fox deleted the requirement that it program sufficient programming for the traditional hours it presently programs.

The FCC, says, NASA, should rule that the provision "improperly seizes control over all of affiliate's digital spectrum and require affiliates to commit to carry digital programs and other content Fox has no obligation to provide..."

The FCC is nearing a decision on the years-old petition by NASA asking the FCC to put a stop to what it says was network strong-arming in affiliation contracts. It promised to wrap up the proceeding after pressure from legislators who were told by some broadcasters that their contracts made it hard to preempt indecent programming.

In its last letter to the commission June 18, NASA said NBC had failed to resolve any of the outstanding issues. That has since changed. NBC June 24 "submitted a letter to the FCC resolving the central issues raised in the NASA petition."