Mouse House plays defense

ABC says affiliates have p'gramming leeway

WASHINGTON — In the mad-dash to voice concerns before the FCC makes its media ownership rules official, Disney defended the way it treats its ABC affiliates Wednesday in a letter to the agency.

The FCC plans to vote on sweeping changes to the rules that govern media consolidation June 2.

Susan Fox, veep of Disney’s government relations office, pointed to the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential debate as proof that ABC allows its affiliates plenty of leeway to make programming decisions on their own.

“ABC gave its affiliates broad leeway in determining when to air the debate, permitting affiliates to air the debate anytime from 11:35 ET on Saturday, May 3 through the morning of Sunday, May 4.”

The actual debate took place two hours earlier at 9:30 eastern time.

Fox added that 54 out of 193 ABC affiliates broadcast the debate, including all of ABC’s ten owned television stations.

Frank Allen, who chairs the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance, said that particular example is refreshing but hardly the norm.

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