07.13.2018 0

Proposed FCC rule change to reshape children’s television


By Natalia Castro

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been run by archaic laws for too long. KidVid rules that were implemented in the 1990’s, continue to restrict broadcasters’ ability to cater toward the needs of their clientele. What began as well-intentioned regulations to enhance televised learning opportunities for children, have become burdensome regulations that limit broadcaster’s ability to meet the needs of their clientele. Luckily, the FCC has begun the process of reviewing and revising these regulations in order to match the technology of the modern era.

When the 1990 Children’s Television Act passed it required broadcasters to “serve the educational and informational needs of children in its overall programming and imposed commercial limitations during such programming.”

Over the next nearly 30 years, the FCC has expanded upon the regulation. Since 2006, the FCC has required broadcasters to place a greater emphasis on fulfilling children “cognitive/intellectual” needs as opposed to their “social/emotional” needs and must air at least 30 minutes of regularly scheduled children programs between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. at the risk of losing their broadcast license if these rules are not met.

This has caused a significant strain on broadcasters.

The National Association of Broadcaster (NAB) found in a July 2017 report, one group that owned 15 TV stations was required to file 473 PDF pages of reports for the FCC in the first quarter of 2017 alone. NAB predicted the group would file approximately 1,892 pages by the end of 2017 merely letting the FCC know what children’s programs they aired that year.

This is a burdensome and unnecessary expense when, in the modern era, children’s programs can be easily accessed on YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly explained in an exclusive interview on Facebook Live with Americans for Limited Government, segments dealing with opioids and teaching families how to deal with those issues have not been able to be shown due to KidVid requirements. Broadcasters, often afraid of not getting their licenses renewed, must stick to strict rules rather than meeting the actual interests of their customers.

Commissioner O’Rielly has taken a lead role in solving this problem. On July 12, 2018, the Commission voted to begin the process of easing rules on broadcasters.

O’Rielly explains, “[The FCC] adopted what is known as a Notice to Oppose Rulemaking which starts the process of asking questions about our existing rules and takes us on a new path for what the rules should look like moving into… future years, what should be our obligations for local broadcasters. The market has changed, and our rules need to reflect that.”

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning commended this effort, “The existing rules no longer make sense in the new world of media options and disproportionately impact over the air, local broadcasters… FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly is doing the public a great service by taking on this task to ensure that the law on children’s programming is followed and the regulations reflect the modern programming realities.”

Television has changed in the last 28 years, and we must have an FCC that realizes that and makes rules reflecting that. FCC Commissioner O’Rielly has taken a significant step toward enacting rules that match our modern needs and end over regulation for broadcasters.

Natalia Castro is Outreach Coordinator at Americans for Limited Government.

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