Tuesday's decision by the Federal Communications Commission that television networks can participate - to a limited extent - in the profits from TV reruns didn't make much of anybody in the industry happy.

The networks don't think it went far enough. The independent producers think it went too far.And you're probably wondering why you should care at all.

Well, the financial interest and syndication rules (also known as fin-syn) have a direct bearing on the future of broadcast television as we know it.

First, a little background. Back in 1970, the FCC barred the three networks - ABC, CBS and NBC - from being able to own the programs they broadcast. In other words, the studios own the shows, sell the first two or three airings to the networks, then sell the reruns to individual stations around the country and overseas.

The networks couldn't make any money off the reruns, while a hit show could bring in hundreds of millions to the studios.

But 1970 was an awful long time ago as far as the television industry is concerned. The Big Three networks were the only game in town, and fin-syn came into being as a method of preventing ABC, CBS and NBC from completely dominating all aspects of the industry.

Things have changed a lot in the past 21 years. The Big Three no longer capture about 95 percent of the viewing audience. Their combined share is dipping down toward 60 percent.

Why? Because they're no longer the only game in town. The rise of cable has siphoned off a lot of those viewers. So has the growth of independent TV stations - most of which make their money off old reruns. And the entry of the fourth network, Fox, into the picture has drawn off even more.

Back in 1970, networks churned out money like mints. Today, in the face of the added competition and a declining advertising market, CBS is losing money and neither NBC nor ABC is making anywhere near the profits they once boasted.

And the networks maintain - justifiably - that they turn shows into hits by airing them, so it's unfair to bar them from participating in the syndication profits of those programs.

Without some new sources of income, there's serious question about the viability of the major broadcast networks in the coming years.

So the FCC has decided to let the networks back into the syndication business - sort of. Under the new rules, the networks can participate in the sales of reruns of up to 40 percent of their prime-time schedules, but only if those programs are in-house productions.

Even that has thrown a major shock into the independent producers. To their way of thinking, relaxing fin-syn is going to stifle creativity, shut out the independents and limit the viewing options of the audience at home.

And there is some merit to the producers' objections, although it's difficult to feel sorry for media giants like Paramount, Universal and Fox.

Given the choice between an excellent, independently produced show and a mediocre, in-house production, a network may well tend to favor the in-house program. It's a choice between profiting from only the first two or three airings of the show and profiting from the reruns for years to come.

Television is, after all, a business. And network executives not only have bottom lines to look at, but each of the Big Three have parent corporations to answer to - ABC belongs to Capital Cities, NBC belongs to General Electric and CBS is controlled by the Loews Corporation.

So the 40 percent rule is a compromise. It will allow the networks to make some more money without completely shutting out the producers.

It may well preserve the broadcast networks as we know, but possibly at the cost of some quality in programming. So, depending on how you look at it, nobody wins or everybody wins.