The public, including special interest groups and parents, have stated their concerns about children’s television. Three main issues regarding children’s programming are separation of program content from the commercials, overcommercialization of children’s programming, and lack of educational programming options (G).
Broadcast stations have claimed that children’s programming needs will be fulfilled by cable television. However, The Federal Communications Commission, also known as the FCC, has placed its restrictions on broadcast stations. The restrictions are not directed toward cable or any other subscription services because, in contrast to broadcast, these
services require a fee (B). According to a study conducted for the Annenburg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, the FCC regulations have a significant impact on a large portion of the industry, even though the regulations do no affect cable or public television. The significance of placing rules on broadcast television is reinforced by the fact that fewer children have access to cable television than broadcast television (D). According to the online article "The FCC Gives Teeth to the Children's Television Act of 1990," the FCC states, “thirty-seven percent of children from ages two to eleven live in homes that are not connected to cable television". In addition, “thirty-eight percent of children from ages twelve to seventeen live in homes that are not connected to cable television,” (A).
In 1990, Congress passed the Children’s Television Act placing restrictions and requirements on children’s programming. The Children’s TV Act of 1990 required the FCC
|to impose advertising limits on children’s programming
of up to 10.5 minutes on weekends and 12 minutes during the week.
The act also restricted the use of host-based commercials, commercials that
feature a character from a particular children’s series giving the advertiser’s
message. This restriction on host-based commercials is aimed at decreasing
the confusion a young child likely has in differentiating between a commercial
and the show’s content. In addition, the Children’s Television Act
was implemented to require that commercial broadcasters to air educational
and informational programming. However, the act did not specify the
number of hours or the actual series that would satisfy the educational or
informational programming requirement. It is also interesting to note
that the FCC sited statistics showing that educational programming had fallen
from 11 hours in 1980 to just 5 hours by the early 1990s (G).
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