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Disney, Fox Clash Over Children's TV Programming

February 22, 1990|MICHAEL CIEPLY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Reiss said the established networks hadn't engaged in practices similar to Fox's, and had particularly avoided what he described as an illegal Fox tactic of program "optioning," or trying to clear air time for future, unspecified programs.

According to Reiss, "The Disney Afternoon" package has already been sold to stations covering 90% of the country by next fall. But he said his company feared the cartoons' success would be impaired if Fox stations began backing out of agreements.

Reiss said a number of Fox stations signed contracts to carry the cartoons, but he declined to be more specific.

KTVU's O'Brien said it was unprecedented for a TV programmer such as Disney to insist on a contiguous, two-hour block of time for its shows, and that Disney had permitted stations to break up the cartoons until Fox announced its intention to form the children's network. He said Disney's attempt to block the children's venture raised more antitrust questions than any action by Fox.

In a similar conflict several months ago, Paramount Communications and MCA Inc. ran afoul of Fox when they solicited Fox affiliates for a planned network that would show programming distributed by their studios. The two companies apparently dropped the plan.

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