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Disney Sues to Block Programming Rules

An FCC requirement to expand children's shows violates ABC network's free speech rights, it says.

October 12, 2005|Jube Shiver Jr. | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Walt Disney Co. asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to block new federal rules requiring broadcasters to expand children's educational programming, saying the regulations violate the free speech rights of the company's ABC television network.

The lawsuit comes less than a week after Viacom Inc. and NBC Universal filed a similar suit in the same U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, seeking to overturn the regulations.

The new Federal Communications Commission rules expand programming requirements as broadcasters move further into digital transmission, and also restrict children's exposure to advertising.

The lawsuit asks the court to order the FCC to reconsider the new rules by Nov. 15, or stay the FCC rules until the court can have a full hearing.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday October 13, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 62 words Type of Material: Correction
Network lawsuit -- An article in Wednesday's Business section on Walt Disney Co.'s filing of a lawsuit seeking to overturn new federal rules requiring broadcasters to expand children's educational programming said NBC Universal joined Viacom Inc. last week in filing a similar lawsuit. Although NBC Universal has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for reconsideration of the rules, the company has not sued.

TV station owners are required by the FCC to air between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. three hours of educational programming for children 16 years and under.

But starting in January, broadcasters will have to supply three hours each on the up to five digital channels they can multicast using digital technology, which also provides sharper pictures and better sound.

More than 90% of broadcasters are offering digital TV at least part of the week.

Entertainment companies say the new regulations will make it difficult to air live sporting events during the weekends, when most children's shows are broadcast. They also complain that the new rules will limit the time broadcasters can show links to websites that display information on sponsors or promotional information about the program.

Supporters of the rules say they are needed to ensure that children can watch television with some educational value.

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