FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Ed Rothschild
November 8, 2007 Podesta Group
Independent Film Makers Urge Senate Action on FCC Rulemaking
Major Studios Squeezing Independents out of Television Marketplace
TV Audience Deprived of Quality Programs
WASHINGTON – In a letter sent today to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee,
the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA) urged them to press “the FCC to reinstitute reasonable
regulation of program diversity” in the agency’s pending Media Ownership Proceeding.
IFTA, citing its recent comments to the FCC, had called on the agency to focus on the decline in independent
programming as a result of media consolidation and to reinstitute safeguards to restore competition and
diversity. IFTA pointed out that independently produced shows that changed the face of television – award
winning shows like “All in the Family” or “The Cosby Show” – are blocked from competing on an equal footing
with shows produced by the major media conglomerates. To restore competition and diversity, IFTA has
proposed a modest 75 percent cap on the amount of self-produced network programming that major
broadcast and cable networks may distribute.
“Independently produced programming has been all but eliminated from U.S. television. This means a decline
in competition in the marketplace and a decline in programming quality,” said Jean Prewitt, President and CEO
of IFTA. “The ultimate loser in all of this is the American television audience.”
In its letter to the leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee, IFTA stated that since the elimination of the
Financial Interest in Syndication Rules (Fin / Syn) and the related consent decree in the early 1990’s, there has
been a substantial consolidation in the television marketplace. The squeezing out of independent production
has resulted in a sharp drop in independent primetime programming from 50 percent in 1995 to only 18
“Independents are increasingly finding themselves forced out of the market,” continued Prewitt. “They must
sell their products to networks at below-cost prices, they are forced to relinquish syndication rights, and major
television networks have stopped acquiring independent feature films or movies-of- the-week for broadcast.
And, as if that is not bad enough, IFTA members have been advised by the networks and many basic cable
channels that there is no market for independently produced children’s programming or family films unless the
buyer can take an ownership position and control its content, with ‘traditional’ family themes particularly out of
favor. As a result, many Member companies have been forced to abandon production of this type of
According to Prewitt, “If Congress and the FCC fail to act now, independent voices in television will be silenced
The Senate Commerce Committee is holding a hearing today to discuss media ownership rules.
The Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) is the trade association for the independent film and television industry. IFTA is a
nonprofit organization that represents more than 180 members from 22 countries, including independent production and distribution
companies, sales agents, television companies, studio-affiliated companies and financial institutions engaged in film finance.