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A New Era of Television Rules to Educate and Protect Children Begins Today

Mar 01, 2006

OAKLAND, CA—Children Now is pleased that broadcast stations and cable companies will begin today to voluntarily implement new rules supporting a healthier media environment for kids. As the television infrastructure converts from analog to digital, these new rules are designed to ensure that children continue to be provided with three hours per week of educational programming per broadcast station and that they are protected from excessive commercialism.

In September 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved new rules defining broadcasters’ public interest obligations to children in the digital television age While children’s advocates applauded the FCC’s ruling, media companies opposed many of the new rules.

In December 2005, the Children’s Media Policy Coalition, which is led by Children Now, and representatives of the broadcast and cable industry reached an agreement on mutually acceptable revisions to the FCC rules. The parties recommended the proposed modifications to the FCC and are currently awaiting the FCC’s approval. Although the FCC must still approve the revisions to the rules, broadcasters and cable networks have agreed to begin voluntarily complying with the new rules today.
The revised rules include:

  • Maintaining a three-hour per week minimum of educational/informational programming (E/I) for children on every channel, both analog and digital;
  • Counting non-children’s program promotions as commercials, but excluding promotions for children’s shows on the same station or E/I shows on any channel;
  • Revising the definition of host selling to ensure that web addresses displayed on screen during a children’s program do not include advertisements featuring characters from the program currently on the air on pages primarily devoted to that program.

“Children Now is thrilled that the Children’s Media Policy Coalition and representatives from broadcast and cable companies were able to reach an agreement on the digital television rules and that the industry has agreed to begin voluntarily implementing these rules today,” said Patti Miller, vice-president of Children Now. “We are very hopeful that the FCC will approve our agreement. All children deserve not only to receive the benefits of television, including access to a diverse array of educational programming, but also to be protected from excessive and often deceptive and harmful advertising practices. These new rules do just that.”

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