Children’s Television Rule Changes Adopted

Posted on July 31st, 2019 by

At its July 10, 2019 meeting, the FCC adopted an order changing its children’s television rules.  We encourage you to review the order at the link provided, and in particular the language of the new rule at pages 51-53.

When the revised rules become effective, full power and Class A television stations will no longer have to air three hours per week of children’s educational and informational programming on each multicast channel, and the Form 398 Children’s TV Report will be filed once annually, by January 30th of the succeeding year, instead of every quarter by the 10th day after each quarter.  The same annual schedule will apply to a station’s requirement to certify compliance with the children’s television commercial limits.

The new rules will give stations two options to satisfy television children’s core programming obligations, as follows:

  1. Broadcast an average of 3 hours/week of children’s core programming, all of which must be regularly scheduled weekly programming OR
  2. Broadcast a total of 156 hours of core programming annually, with a minimum of 26 hours per quarter of regularly scheduled weekly programming plus up to 52 hours annually of core programs at least 30 minutes long that are not regularly scheduled on a weekly basis.  The 52-hour portion could also be deemed satisfied with some shorter-form programming and interstitials that are not 30 minutes long.Regardless of which of the two approaches a station chooses to use, stations that multicast will be permitted to air up to 13 hours per quarter of regularly scheduled weekly core programming on a multicast stream in lieu of the main channel, and still count it toward the total core programming aired under either of the options above.

If the rules go into effect before the end of 2019, the FCC plans to allow stations to choose to switch to the annual processing guidelines for the remainder of 2019, and will evaluate compliance with the rule on a pro-rated basis for the portions of 2019 applicable to the old and new guidelines.  The Media Bureau will issue a future public notice announcing the effective dates of the new rules and implementation options. Stations should become familiar with the new rules now, as they will impact program scheduling once effective.