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FCC Defines Kids' Promos as Ads

Starting in January 2006, promos for other shows aired during kids' TV shows will count as advertisements unless the shows promoted are educational/informational, the Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday.

Up until now, those promos didn't count as ads.

The FCC says the new rules apply to cable as well as broadcasting, analog as well as digital, and it would like to apply them to DBS, too, though that is only a tentative conclusion. The FCC is looking to decrease the number of interruptions in kids shows, though it plans to raise the icon annoyance factor (read on).

The promo change was one of a number of new rules the FCC approved Tuesday regarding children's TV on analog and digital stations.

As expected, the commission has determined that the digital versions of analog stations must carry three hours of core educational or informational kids shows per week, as do their analog counterparts. That won't be too tough since the commmission  said that programming could simply be a duplicate of the analog.

Digital broadcasters who broadcast free video services must increase that three-hour core minimum by one-half hour for every 1-28 hours of additional free multicast content. That would work out to an additional three hours for every new 24/7 channel it added. Half of that material can be repeats of the core three hours, however.

The FCC will also now require an E/I icon (educational/informational) to air throughout FCC-friendly kids shows, not just at the beginning, essentially subjecting kids to the same annoying on-screen identifiers as their parents. In another change, noncommercial stations will now be required to carry the icons as well.

The FCC will allow broadcasters to aggregate all that additional kid content on one channel or spread it out over many. There will be no additional kids TV obligations for adding pay multicast services.

To qualify at license renewal time Kids TV shows must meet the FCC is E/I standards, be at least half an hour and air between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

The FCC will permit web links in kids shows so long as the links are to primarily educational sites. It will also allow, for the time being, interactive links to commercial sites, saying there weren't many those yet anyway and it wanted to see how interactivity plays out under market forces.

Still, the FCC suggests it would like to see such links active only if parents opt in to them.

Although many of the changes don't kick in until January 2006, the rules applying to the definition of core kids programming kick in February 1, 2005. The first stations renewals that could be affected are due up in April in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.