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Ad Council Seeks PSA Kids Rule Exemption

In comments to the FCC on proposed new kids programming DTV rules, The Ad Council has asked the FCC to exempt public-service anouncements (PSAs) from limits on the display of commercial Web information in kids shows, saying some stations are refusing to carry PSA's for fear of running afoul of the new rules.

It is particularly concerned that PSA's that directed viewers to, say the Girl Scouts Web site, would be impermissible under the rules as currently constituted.

That is because the four-part test for permitting such links includes a provision that the Web site linked to "contain no links labeled 'store," which the council points out would exclude the Girl Scouts, Library of Congress, and National Crime Prevention Council.

"The Ad Council has found that in order to avoid fines or expensive compliance costs, stations are refusing to run PSA's altogether, refusing to air any PSAs unless they are child-targeted, or are proposing to strip out all URLs in programming, commercial content, and PSAs.

The FCC adopted new rules for kids shows on DTV and analog channels, but the networks and activists took them to court arguing they were too tough--networks--and not tough enough--activists. They then hammered out a compromise and submitted it to the FCC, which put the compromise out for public comment (comment due date, April 24).

The council also wants the FCC to clarify that PSAs are not commercial matter that would count toward limits on kids advertising.
The Ad Council has a number of child-targeted campaigns, including on bullying, obesity, after-school programs, and early childhood development.