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FCC girds for battle as it gets detailed plan

WASHINGTON – The television industry is expected to formally submit its proposal for an age-based ratings system to the FCC before the end of the week.

FCC sources said they have encouraged the industry to submit a thorough explanation and defense of the ratings system because it is likely to come under heavy attack during the 30-day public comment period. The detailed submission is expected to include polling and data collected by the industry during the past year.

One source said FCC chairman Reed Hundt specifically asked industry reps to take as much time as possible in compiling their official proposal with the FCC. “(Hundt) would like a proposal he could approve,” said one source.

The FCC has the authority under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to reject the proposal and appoint an advisory committee to come up with a TV ratings plan of its own.

Board set

Meanwhile, cablers and broadcasters have appointed their reps to the “oversight monitoring board” charged with mediating disputes arising from the new system. The board will be chaired by Motion Picture Assn. of America prexy Jack Valenti.

The 19-member board will include six reps each from the cable and broadcasting industry. Hollywood has also been allotted six slots. Four of the Hollywood slots will be occupied by guild reps, the two other seats will go to studio execs.

The cable execs appointed to the board are Ann Foley, Showtime exec VP, east coast programming; Neil Hoffman, USA Networks VP programming/strategic planning; Brooke Johnson, A&E Television Networks; Gus Lucas, president Intl. Family Entertainment; Johnathan Rodgers, president, Discovery Networks U.S.; Terri Tingle, Turner Networks senior VP of standards/practices & public affairs.

B’casting bunch

Broadcasters on the board are: Martin Franks, CBS senior veepee; Rosalyn Weiman, NBC standards and practices; Margaret Loesch, chairman & CEO Fox Kids Worldwide; Christine Hikawa, ABC standards and practices; Delores Sanchez, Univision; Elizabeth Burns, president, Morgan Murphy Station Group.

Hollywood reps include: Arthur Seidelman, Directors Guild of America; Richard Masur, Screen Actors Guild; Leonard Stern, Producers Guild of America; Elizabeth Sullivan, Writers Guild West; Ned Nalle, executive veep, Universal Television Entertainment Prods. One studio seat is yet to be filled.

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