In a 3-2 party-line vote fueled by efforts begun in early 2018 by GOP Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, the FCC at its July Open Meeting approved a report and order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) that will largely rewrite regulations pertaining to children’s television programming.
What does this mean for broadcast TV station owners across the U.S.? Here are the details, thanks to the affirmative vote on MB Docket Nos. 18-202 and 17-205.
With the approval of the Report and Order, the following changes to the nation’s “KidVid” rules are set to take place:
• The addition of the 6am hour to the hours of “Core Programming” , while still ending at 10pm.
• The majority of Core Programming must be regularly scheduled weekly programming. However, broadcast stations may be permitted to air a limited amount of non-regularly scheduled weekly programming, such as educational specials. This programming would count as Core Programming.
• A majority of Core Programming will need to be at least 30 minutes in length. That said, broadcast stations could air a limited amount of short-form programming, including public service announcements (PSAs) and interstitials, and have it count as Core Programming.
• The obligation to air 156 hours of Core Programming per year remains, even with a modification of the FCC’s safe harbor processing guidelines for determining compliance with the children’s programming rules.
• Broadcast stations that multicast will be required 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.
• Noncommercial broadcast stations such as PBS member stations no longer need to display the “E/I” symbol throughout the program to identify their Core Programming.
Meanwhile, the FNPRM would seek additional comment 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.