In the US, the FCC is about to impose "tough" new obligations on television broadcasters to air dramatically more children’s programming on their new digital television channels. USA TODAY, citing two FCC officials as its source, said the commission may require that broadcasters run three hours of children’s programming a week on each new 24-hour multicast channel that a station broadcasts in addition to its main channel. Under current rules, a broadcaster must show three hours of educational programming each week on its main analogue channel.
The rules would allow broadcasters to shift the children’s shows to another multicast channel if it were impractical to air the programs on, for example, on an all-weather or all-sports channel — as long as the total number of required hours was met. So, surprise surprise, one option, would be to broadcast an all-kids channel.
The newspaper said the proposal is supported by most of the five FCC commissioners, including Chairman Michael Powell, and could be officially approved as early as this week. The proposed new rules stem from an FCC initiative to set public interest obligations of terrestrial broadcasters in exchange for their free use of billions of dollars worth of broadcast spectrum owned by the public.
Some broadcasters have expressed concern that the requirements could hinder their multicasting plans. Many NBC affiliates, for example, plan to air all-weather channels, and possibly three or four other niche channels, such as sports, said Alan Frank, chief of Post-Newsweek Stations.
By year’s end, USA TODAY said the FCC also plans:
To propose how much public-affairs programming broadcasters must air on their digital channels.
To determine whether broadcasters must publicly disclose the amount of public-interest programming they air.
To decide whether cable systems must carry all of a TV station’s multicast channels.
Of course we're very interested to see what qualifies as children's programmes. A while back that meant adventures of the Super Mario Brothers, which I found difficult to classify as educational!