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NASA Petition on Launch Pad

Strangely enough, there may be an unexpected benefit for TV affiliates from the government’s crusade against indecency.

Lobbyists for ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates were happy to hear last week that FCC Chairman Michael Powell is gearing up to settle their three-year-old petition to outlaw network policies they say block affiliates from exercising a right to preempt network programs.

Powell for the past couple of years has shown little inclination to move on the request by the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance, even though a majority of commissioners--Kevin Martin, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein--are said to support it.

Last week a Powell aide told the NAB in Las Vegas that Powell’s recommendation would be presented to fellow commissioners within a month.

Affiliate insiders say they are "encouraged" that Powell’s promise means he’s leaning their way. Powell’s mind has been changed an FCC source said, because stronger preemption rights would give affiliates power to reject network shows they think would be offensive to local communities.