The 'Fin-Syn' Chronology: A Brief History of the Financial and Syndication Rules

1970 - Concerned over the power of the big three networks, and over complaints of network abuse of those powers, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) imposes the Financial and Syndication (Fin-Syn) Rules. These rules sharply limit the networks' ability to create their own programming and to benefit from the resale rights of those shows to non-network stations in the US. The networks can no longer have a financial interest in most o f the programs they put on the air. They can only license them from the studios or independent producers for a limited number of years. 1983 - The FCC, recognizing that the film and television industry landscape has changed, proposes to lift the Fin-Syn Rules, arguing that they are no longer justified. President Reagan scotches the attempt to eliminate Fin-Syn Rules.

1987 - Increasingly unhappy with the limitations imposed on them, the networks initiate negotiations with the big Hollywood studios, seeking an intra-industry solution. The negotiations go nowhere.

1989 - The FCC warns that, unless studios and television come to some agreement on their own, the commission will step in and reevaluate the Fin-Syn arrangement.

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1991 - Talks break down and the FCC, buffeted by a huge lobbying effort from both sides, gets ready to vote. Then it appears that three out of the five commissioners favor Hollywood, and their Fin- Syn proposal spells total defeat for the networks. The Justice Department steps in and obtains a delay in any new FCC ruling. The networks, sensing a negative FCC drift, ask the studios for renewed talks. These talks break down over the basic issues. This lands the Fin-Syn debate back in the FCC's camp, whose members are expected to vote on the rules April 9 - although dissension in the commission could postpone a decision again.

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