FCC Revises Children’s TV Rules

Last Wednesday a divided FCC revised its current “Kid Vid” rules for broadcast television.  The vote split along party lines, with Chairman Agit Pai, Commissioner O’Rielly and Commissioner Brendan Carr voting for the change.  Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and Commissioner Geoffrey Starks dissented.

The decision updated rules to reflect the myriad changes in the media marketplace since the FCC first adopted children’s programming rules nearly 30 years ago.  The decision is divided into two parts.  The first part contains new, revised rules.  The second part of the decision asks for additional comment.

The newly revised rules will:

  • Require broadcasters to air 156 hours on an annual basis (the equivalent of 3 hours per week)
  • No longer require broadcasters to air an additional 3 hours per week for every multicast channel.
  • Expand the 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. time frame  to allow broadcasters to begin airing children’s programming one hour earlier, at 6:00 a.m.;
  • Modifies the safe harbor processing guidelines used in determining compliance with the children’s programming rules;
  • Allows up to 52 hours a year of children’s programming to consist of educational specials and/or short-form programming;
  • Requires stations to air the substantial majority of their Core Programming on their primary program stream but allows stations to air up to 13 hours per quarter of regularly scheduled weekly programming on a multicast stream; and
  • Streamlines the children’s programming reporting requirements

The commission solicited additional comment on the creation of a framework under which broadcasters could satisfy their children’s programming obligations by relying, in part, on efforts to sponsor children’s programming aired on other in-market stations.

Importantly, the decision did not change the fundamental obligation to provide children’s programming.  Nonetheless, the decision does provide stations with significantly greater flexibility in meeting this obligation.

To see the FCC decision click HERE.


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