Responsible Programming Confab Closed to Press

By: Todd Shields

(Mediaweek) An industry-wide summit on responsible programming for broadcasters will be closed to the press, even though participants are to include federal regulators, a newspaper columnist, TV anchors and representatives of parents’ and religious groups.

The Summit on Responsible Programming, set for March 31 in Washington, comes as broadcasters scramble to respond to a furor over coarse programming that has seen lawmakers move to steeply increase fines for violations of decency standards.

The summit’s organizer, the National Association of Broadcasters, said closing the session would ensure candid and fruitful exchanges among those invited, who include all broadcasters whether NAB members or not.

“To encourage constructive dialogue and actually try to come up with something constructive … it’s preferable to have this occur behind closed doors,” NAB Senior Vice President Dennis Wharton said Wednesday.

The NAB in a notice for the all-day summit said participants are to include Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell and fellow commissioners Kevin Martin and Michael Copps.

Also to attend are Monsignor Francis Maniscalco, director of communications for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council; Chicago Tribune “Media Mom” columnist Nell Minnow; Robert Thompson, founding director of the Syracuse University Center for the Study of Popular Television; and Kaiser Family Foundation Vice President Vicky Rideout.

Industry figures slated to attend include Tony Vinciquerra, president and CEO of the Fox Networks Group; Alex Wallau, president of the ABC Television Network; and Washington-area media figures Chris Core, host on ABC radio’s WMAL-AM; Gordon Peterson, news anchor for WUSA-TV (a CBS affiliate owned by Gannett Co. Inc.) and Kathleen Matthews, an anchor for WJLA-TV (an ABC affiliate owned by Albritton Corp.), the NAB said.

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