Democratic Senators Take Issue with Kids Rule Revamp

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), joined by eight other Democratic senators--three of them presidential candidates--has asked the FCC to dial back its kids TV rule dereg big time.

That came in a letter last week in response to a draft order circulated for a vote at the July 10 open meeting.

The senators praised the fact that the order did not "dismantle" the rules, as they said the FCC had initially proposed, they still had problems with most of the major proposed changes, particularly with the plan to allow TV stations to air a third of their required three hours weekly of educational/informational (E/I) programming on a digital subchannel. 

They said that would "limit the reach of educational content available to children and have a particularly damaging effect on youth in low-income and minority communities."

Related: NAB Pitches Kid-Friendliness of High School Sports, Politics

They point out that viewership to subchannels is "significantly lower," so that broadcasters could "shelve" that content.

They also take issue with the proposal to require only two-thirds of the content to be regularly scheduled as a way to give broadcasters more flexibility. They said parents should be able to know exactly when age-appropriate fare will be on given that much of broadcast program isn't meant for kids.

Related: Kids TV Advocates Say Kids Rules Weren't Make to Be Broken

They also have issues with extending the hours when kids TV content qualifies toward the three-hour mandate and changing the requirement to three hours across all stations--primary and subchannel--rather than on each. 

Joining Markey in the letter were Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Duckworth, Tammy Baldwin, Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown, Ron Wyden, and Amy Klobuchar.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.