At its July Meeting the FCC is scheduled to issue a decision that will significantly revise its children’s television rules. These rules have not been updated for years. The existing rules are simply out of step with today’s television market for children’s programming. We applaud the FCC’s proposed decision. According to the proposed order, the FCC will:
- Expand the 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. time frame during which Core Programming must be aired to allow broadcast stations to begin airing Core Programming one hour earlier, at 6:00 a.m.
- Require that a majority of Core Programming be regularly scheduled weekly programming but permit broadcast stations to air a limited amount of programming that is not regularly scheduled weekly programming, such as educational specials, and have it count as Core Programming.
- Require that a majority of Core Programming be at least 30 minutes in length but permit broadcast stations to air a limited amount of short-form programming, including public service announcements (PSAs) and interstitials, and have it count as Core Programming.
- Modify the safe harbor processing guidelines for determining compliance with the children’s programming rules, while retaining the obligation to air 156 hours of Core Programming per year
- Require broadcast stations that multicast to air the substantial majority of their Core Programming on their primary program streams but permit such stations to air up to 13 hours per quarter of regularly scheduled weekly programming on a multicast stream.
- Eliminate the requirement that noncommercial broadcast stations identify their Core Programming by displaying the “E/I” symbol throughout the program.
- Streamline reporting and record keeping requirements.
In addition, the Commission will be issuing a Further Notice of Proposed rule making and asking for additional comments on the creation of a framework under which broadcasters could satisfy their children’s programming obligations by relying, in part, on special efforts to produce or support Core Programming aired on other stations in their markets.
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