Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) hosted a press conference Wednesday (July 11) to call for the FCC to convert its kidvid notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) into a notice of inquiry (NOI) so it can collect more data on the impact of its proposals.
He was joined by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and children's TV advocates.
Markey has a vested interest in the children's TV rules the implementation of which the FCC is proposing to revamp--he was the author.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai is planning a July 12 vote on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which would not be a final vote, but would signal what the FCC wants to do, and what it still has questions about, with a final vote not coming until stakeholders had a chance to weigh in and the item adjusted accordingly, if need be.
The item tentatively concludes that educational and informational programming does not have to be at least a half-hour in length and regularly scheduled. The agency also proposes cutting the frequency of kids TV reports to the FCC from quarterly to annually.
The rule review effort was defended by Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly. O'Rielly has said that the NPRM is hardly the end of the process and the FCC is open to the input the proposal is guaranteed to generate.
But Markey says the proposals are not based on the kind of fact-driven inquiry needed for such changes and that O'Rielly's "hunches," as Blumenthal put it, are not enough to justify the proposals.
While O'Rielly has said that the mandate may not be necessary given the proliferation of kids programming on the Web and pay TV, Markey counters that 11 million kids under 6 live in low-income households that may not have access to an "expensive" cable service or high-speed broadband.
Given that O'Rielly has said the NRPM is not the end of the process, and Republican support for revising the rules in the face of competition from other platforms, the FCC is unlikely to change course in response to Markey's urging.
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.
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