The Assn. of Independent Television Stations is complaining that the FCC made an “arbitrary and capricious” decision to phase out after two years the syndication portion of the finsyn rules.Brief filed The indie station lobbying arm’s comments were to be made today in a legal brief filed at Chicago’s U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the court that has thus far played a central role in presiding over the ongoing elimination of Hollywood’s treasured financial interest and syndication rules. So it seems unlikely the Chicago court will be sympathetic to the INTV remarks. Last April, the FCC ruled that it was immediately removing a longtime restriction that prevented the Big Three networks from investing in independently produced primetime programs. The FCC also set in motion plans to eliminate after two years the ban on networks actively entering the syndication business. Both of the deregulatory actions came after the Chicago court tossed out as “unreasoned and unreasonable” earlier FCC revisions to the finsyn rules that preserved Hollywood’s grip on the syndication market. INTV said in today’s filing that the FCC “lurched compulsively in response to the court’s prodding … and in the process crafted a decision which collapses on itself in critical respects.” INTV urged the Chicago court to send the case back to the FCC yet again so the agency can develop more defensible rules. Alarmed Indie TV outlets are alarmed over the potential for the networks, in a finsyn-less era, to steer popular syndicated programming to web affiliates. INTV said the FCC “did not and could not conclude rationally that the networks had lost the incentive or ability to manipulate the syndication market to their advantage.”
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