PTAR Opposition Strengthening

Add Bonneville Intl. to the growing list of companies calling for relaxation of the primetime access rule.

Bonneville, owner of two CBS affils in Salt Lake City and Seattle, sent a letter to the FCC asking that stations in the top 50 markets be permitted to air offnet programming in the access slot. The request mirrored one filed at the FCC late last year by the Walt Disney Co.

PTAR requires network affiliates in the top 50 markets to set aside one hour in primetime for non-network programming.

Bonneville prez Rodney Brady said in the FCC missive that his firm “repeatedly had [its] programming and business judgments frustrated by the off-network restrictions of the rule. Our stations compete today in a marketplace radically different from that which existed when the primetime access rule was adopted.

“Moreover, we face the possibility of competing in the future with Fox network programming and Fox affiliates, both of which will benefit from special exemptions that may be grafted into the rule,” continued Brady.

A number of media firms have questioned the need for PTAR in the last year. Seemingly, the most serious threat comes from First Media Corp, owner of CBS affil WCPX-TV Orlando. First Media has asked that PTAR be tossed out on constitutional grounds, claiming that the rule has outlived its usefulness and is a violation of the free speech rights of broadcasters.

The increasing pressure for PTAR relief has had little effect on the FCC, which supports the regs.

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