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FCC unity on 'Kid's TV' breaks down over strict plan

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FCC unity on 'Kid's TV' breaks down over strict plan07/29/96 WASHINGTON, D.C.--Following a second policy reversal by a pivotal commissioner,…

FCC unity on ‘Kid’s TV’ breaks down over strict plan

07/29/96

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Following a second policy reversal by a pivotal commissioner, the Federal Communications Commission once again found itself deadlocked in late July on the issue of children’s educational television. Commissioner James Quello had voiced support for a three hour minimum in late June, but has now raised objections to the current plan proposed by Chairman Reed Hundt.

The plan, which is part of the regulatory effort to implement the Children’s Television Act of 1990, requires television stations to air at least three hours of educational programming for children each week as a condition of license renewal.

Quello stated in a press release that he will not vote for the plan because it is “too regulatory” and does not give broadcasters enough flexibility in meeting requirements.

His objections concern the definition of educational programming, and which programs would qualify. Quello has also said that he favors allowing broadcasters to meet requirements through means other than running three hours of educational television per week.

In mid-June, Quello announced that he had dropped his long- standing opposition to a quota-based requirement and would not stand in the way of the three hour standard. He said he decided to vote for or against the plan after Hundt attached additional regulations.

The plan has the support of Hundt and commissioner Susan Ness. Commissioner Rachelle Chong, who late last month also said she supported the idea of some minimal standard, said she will vote against the current plan.

At a press conference in mid-July, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) announced that Congress will step up pressure on the FCC to implement a “Three 4 Kids” rule. Markey delivered a letter to the FCC signed by 224 House members voicing support for the standard in May. He now says the three hour plan has the support of 260 House and Senate members.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore have both spoken in favor of the three-hour standard in recent weeks. The President will host a “children’s summit” at the end of July in which he will meet with TV industry leaders on the issue.