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In this paper, we investigate an adaptive channel error-protection scheme for streaming stored MPEG-4 fine granular scalability (FGS) bitstreams over error-prone environments. The human eye is sensitive to the variations in reconstructed image quality. Therefore, instead of using only the minimal average frame distortion as the optimization criterion, we propose a rate-distortion (R-D)-based bit-allocation method to determine the source coding rate and the channel coding rate under a given channel condition so as to minimize both the average image distortion and quality variation. Based on our proposed piecewise model of the MPEG-4 FGS enhancement layer, a balance between the average frame quality and quality variation will be obtained. Experimental results show that, compared with other existing methods, our proposed method can achieve less quality variation and comparable average frame distortion under various channel conditions.