NATPE panel debates fin-syn and PTAR rules

Bruce Paisner, chairman and CEO of Hearst Entertainment, told the audience at a NATPE panel yesterday that if the Federal Communications Commission abolishes the financial interest and syndication rules, “the major studios will swallow up the networks, or vice versa.”

Speaking at a National Assn. of Television Program Executives session called “The Great Debate,” Paisner said the disappearance of the fin-syn rules would also drive out a lot of “smaller, independent suppliers” of programming.

Fin-syn has created a barrier to the merger of studios with nets because the studios would have to give up lucrative domestic-syndication divisions.

Voicing opposition to Paisner’s analysis was another panelist, Jay Kriegel, senior VP of CBS Inc. He said the rules mainly exist “to preserve the franchise of the major studios” so that they can harvest big bucks by selling programs in TV syndication.

But the major-studio representative on the panel, Greg Meidel, president of domestic TV for 20th Century Fox, said his company is in favor of throwing out the rules.

But Meidel and Kriegel differed over the fate of the prime time access rule (PTAR). Meidel wants to keep it because it has sparked such series as “Current Affair.”

Kriegel says the access rules “protect a small group of companies,” led by King World.

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