Challenges to New Children’s TV Rules Moved to Cincinnati

Nov 17, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington late Wednesday referred pending challenges of the Federal Communications Commission’s new children’s TV rules to the federal appeals court in Cincinnati.

The Walt Disney Co. and Viacom filed challenges with the D.C. court, in the apparent belief that their arguments against the new FCC rules would receive more sympathy from the justices there. But the watchdog Office of Communication for the United Church of Christ beat the networks to the punch with its own challenge to the regulations in the Cincinnati court.

The networks are particularly concerned that the new rules will restrict their ability to attract children to their Web sites, where FCC children’s TV rules-including prohibitions against selling or pitching by children’s TV program hosts-don’t currently apply.

Absent a stay, the FCC’s rules are scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2006. Said a spokesman for Viacom’s CBS, in the wake of this latest jurisdictional wrinkle in the case: “We remain confident that when we get our day in court we will prevail. This will permit us to continue providing the highest-quality children’s educational and informational programming to younger audiences without being forced to cancel news or sports programming that is highly valued by other viewers, whose interests deserve consideration as well.”

Added a spokeswoman for Disney’s ABC: “The decision by the D.C. court transferring the case to the 6th Circuit [Cincinnati] has nothing to do with the merits of our challenge to these harmful and unnecessary new rules. We are confident that whichever court considers the case on the merits will rule in our favor.”

Said Gloria Tristani, managing director of the UCC’s Office of Communication: “I just wish they’d just stop litigating these rules and start complying with them for the sake of the children.”