In a vote that was largely anticipated, the FCC on Thursday voted 3-1 to launch a proceeding to seek comment on proposed revisions to its children’s television programming, or “KidVid,” rules.
The NPRM, tied to what is formally MB Docket Nos. 18-202, 17-105, recommends the modification of what the Republican majority consider “outdated rules adopted in 1996” pursuant to the Children’s Television Act.
Leading the charge is Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who drafted the bulk of the NPRM and has been a vocal advocate for changing the rules. Echoing his sentiments, the FCC explained the proposed rulemaking comes in response to “dramatic changes in the video programming marketplace since the FCC first adopted its children’s programming rules over 20 years ago.”
As an example, the FCC said that live TV viewing has declined as more consumers watch video programming using DVRs and video on demand.
However, not everyone has access to a DVR or VOD, those opposed to the loosening of KidVid rules counter.
Still, the FCC believes the “vast array” of children’s programming available from non-broadcast outlets such as cable networks, over-the-top providers and Internet sites, as well as “a proliferation of educational children’s content from non-commercial broadcast stations” means it’s time for a change.
The NPRM seeks input on proposed changes to the criteria that children’s programming must meet to be considered Core Programming, which among other things currently require that programming be at least 30 minutes in length and regularly scheduled.
Additionally, it asks whether to update the three-hour per week processing guideline used in determining compliance with the children’s programming rules and seeks comment on ways to streamline reporting requirements.
The NPRM also proposes creating a framework under which broadcasters could satisfy their children’s programming obligations by relying in part on special sponsorship efforts and/or special non-broadcast efforts.
Finally, the rulemaking proposes allowing multicasting stations to choose on which of their free over-the-air streams to air their required Core Programming hours.
The NAB was one of the first groups to respond to the NPRM’s adoption. NAB EVP/Communications Dennis Wharton thanked the Commission for its proposal and O’Rielly for his leadership on this issue.
“Broadcasters remain committed to delivering educational programming to kids,” Wharton said. “But, given the seismic changes in how children consume media, it makes perfect sense for the Commission to take a fresh look at these regulations. We will work with the FCC and other stakeholders to craft common-sense, flexible and effective rules that allow local TV stations to continue serving the educational needs of children.”