Say That Again

by Mike Masnick

Indy Film Makers Ask FCC To Promise Them 25% Of Prime Time TV

from the say-what? dept

Matthew Lasar writes in to let us know that a group of independent film makers are asking the FCC to force network TV operators to reserve 25% of prime time airtime for independently produced content. This is an exceptionally strange request. Similar to the effort to bring back the fairness doctrine, this whole concept seems based on the false assumption that network TV has no competition. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. There's a ton of competition to network TV, from cable TV to the internet to DVDs and plenty of other entertainment sources. To suggest that independently produced content doesn't have enough channels to reach consumers is simply ridiculous. These days it's much easier for independently produced content to reach a decent audience, and having the FCC step in and mandate that a certain percentage of prime time network TV be reserved for independent content is simply pointless. Sure, some people may believe that prime time network content is somewhat brain dead, but there are plenty of other options out there.

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  • identicon
    ReallyEvilCanine, 22 May 2007 @ 9:14am


    this whole concept seems based on the false assumption that network TV has no competition

    No other content delivery method is controlled by a select few companies which enjoy free monopoly use of the broadcast spectrum.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2007 @ 9:32am

    This is counterproductive. Broadcast television is a joke. Anyone still watching it predominantly has such poor taste that they wont like your artsy indie crap. Broadcast TV is highly tuned to its audience. If its viewers wanted indie stuff, they'd turn to cable where it can proliferate. By forcing it on broadcast TV viewers, you aggravate them at the same time as disincentivizing their switch to looking for indie stuff on cable, which is a far more wide open field where you can shine.

    Broadcast television is the palestine of media--a war-torn battleground where the conflict has been blown out of proportion and into something surreal and barely recognizable. Why duke it out there? Leave it to the people already caught up in it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sanguine Dream, 22 May 2007 @ 9:34am


    they want a chance to get their material out to the fans then it may be better (and cheaper) to just release it on the web. But their goal is to get attention and money then perhaps getting some primetime airtime isn't such a bad idea...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SPR, 22 May 2007 @ 9:41am

    Re: Competition

    Some satellite systems and cable systems offer the IFC (Independent Film Channel) which airs all kinds of material. Also, there are not a "select few" companies. There are many broadcast companies that are free (within certain parameters controlled by their parent company) to choose their content. In other words, they already have their outlet, they just need to convince cable companies and satellite companies to include it in their channel line-up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    You never know, 22 May 2007 @ 9:44am

    Hmmmm If my memory serves me correct, didn't this same group want protection from copyright infringement laws not to long ago? And now they want to make money from it's airing?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JS Beckerist (profile), 22 May 2007 @ 10:12am

    Re: Competition, @ReallyEvilCanine

    You are exactly, 100% correct. SPR, you completely invalidated your claim by the clause "within certain parameters controlled by their parent company."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    BillDivX, 22 May 2007 @ 10:52am

    this is brilliant!!!

    They want better publicity for their works. The prime time air won't get it for them. Not that the FCC will give them that air time. But something else is at work here...the streisand effect! That's right. it's power is clearly growing. Lawyers and business owners are starting to learn (the smart ones anyway) that they need to stay away from it. The next step, is for one of them to learn to control it.

    I believe we might soon see the first intentional use of the streisand effect.

    think about it. Group wants publicity. Group makes outrageous request to government body to force their publicity upon the people, knowing fully that said request will be laughed at. Request gets laughed at, bloggers get to blogging on it, and presto! instant publicity!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SPR, 22 May 2007 @ 11:00am

    Aside from the question of how many broadcast companies there are, there is the issue of language and nudity. I sometimes watch the IFC when I visit a family member who has satellite. Much of their programming is not suitable for prime-time broadcast, although it is excellent quality (for the most part) and quite entertaining.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    LongfellowX, 22 May 2007 @ 11:37am


    Like the Fairness Doctrine, this is a call for broadcasting of old -- basically a more direct version of the defunct Financial Interest and Syndication rules that Judge Posner disposed of in 1992. The FCC argued then that the FinSyn rules were necessary to ensure program diversity (basically the same argument independent producers are making today). But Posner, looking at the increasing power of cable as a content producer, dismissed the FCC's argument by noting that for all the significance that the FCC put in the concept of "diversity," it never even took the time to define it. "Stripped of verbiage," Posner said, "the [FCC's] opinion, like a Persian cat with its fur shaved, is alarmingly pale and thin." As a result of that decision, UPN and WB came into being, and Fox significantly increased its programming lineup.

    Make no mistake, this isn't about diversity, no more than it was in 1992. It's about money. Independent producers want unfettered access to the treasure of syndication. But as they did in 1992, they fail to see that times have changed. With the Internet, and the advent of IPTV, their argument is less plausible today than it was in 1992. The persian cat has lost some weight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GoblinJuice, 22 May 2007 @ 11:44am


    WTF?! Promise?!

    Yeah, okay, so... basically... you're admitting your product sucks and there's no way in hell that the networks would put it on by choice, so you want to FORCE the networks to put it on?

    Get a friggin' clue! Or, better yet, PRODUCE SOMETHING PEOPLE WILL WANT TO WATCH!

    I feel like busting someone in the head with a copy of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Hardcover!


    This is SO reinforcing my perception of "indy media" being made for and by little, whiny children.

    Ugh! I can just imagine some twit in Marin County (that's just north of San Francisco, folks) complaining about "how the capitalistic system is depriving the American people a chance to see my oh-so-fascinating documentary on the non-native plant life of Andorra!"

    Oh, yeah, fuck the Fairness Doctrine. You want fair? Start your own channel. If you can't afford to start your own channel, start a site. Examples: Hot Air, The Huffington Post and 18 Doughty Street.

    Did I mention most of the crap I watch is indy and/or foreign? :-P

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve, 22 May 2007 @ 12:01pm

    Has anyone seen

    This reminds me so much of the indy film "This film is not yet rated". After watching it, I am convinced that independent filmmakers are a pretty whiny bunch. I have watched a few independent films here and there, and I certainly recognize the value of independent film, and that the MPAA actively works to create obstacles for independent filmmakers.

    *BUT*'s not the MPAA's or the FCC's job to make people want to see independent films.

    Also, offtopically, it would be nice if the indies could come to grips with the fact that there are many of us adults out here who genuinely do not want our children, nieces, nephews, grandkids, etc. exposed to certain adult themes behind our backs. When the kids turn 18 and don't need our permission anymore, you can get in line to preach to them like everyone else!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    The Dukeman (profile), 22 May 2007 @ 12:28pm

    Nobody watches it.

    I'm convinced that nobody watches broadcast TV, at least not anywhere near the numbers reported by the Networks. Except, of course, the news and PBS. I think it's just a bunch of made up numbers. I mean, look at what's on those channels: content not really suitable for children of any age. Let alone adults with brains.

    Also, "Independent" content ceases to be so when its producers band together into a group. True independent content comes from garages and living rooms, not production companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2007 @ 1:20pm

    Broadcast television?

    They should add something about 25% of LaserDiscs being indie content too.

    And indie musicians should get 25% of player piano content while the FCC is at it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GoblinJuice, 22 May 2007 @ 1:55pm

    And pr0n!

    @14 - And pr0n! 25% - AT LEAST 25% - of all pr0n produced in the US of A should be indy/amateur, too!

    Jesus! I may actually be on board with this!

    w00t! ;-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    trollificus (profile), 22 May 2007 @ 2:38pm

    Rank hypocrisy or total failure of critical thinki

    So...these 'independent' filmmakers, despite the fact they can't be arsed to create content the networks want to show their viewers...want the networks to show their content to the network's viewers?? Have I got that right? And this is, somehow, 'for our own good'??

    Never mind the fact that I can 'not watch' content that's on the networks as easily as I can 'not watch' content that sits on a DVD in the 'indie filmmakers' grubby apartment...this differs from government propaganda only in the minor detail of what's in that particular hour or half-hour. And God knows we've got enough government-sponsored nanny state hectoring already...'for our own good'.

    The same could be said of correct political views or uplifting moral thinking (for our own good)...and I'm guessing most of these 'indies' would shit themselves if we had too much of that. Matter of fact, they'd probably make documentaries exposing the danger of government-dictated programming...and then demand the government force the networks to show it??

    Is that ironic? Or just stupid? It's so hard to tell sometimes...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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