Children's TV Programming Reports Due March 30, 2020

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

By March 30, 2020 (postponed from January 30), all commercial full power and Class A TV stations must prepare and file their initial annual Children's Programming Report and post online documentation demonstrating compliance with the limits on commercial matter aired during children's programming.

Children's TV Programming Reports

As noted in our earlier advisory, the FCC has made significant changes to the Children's Programming requirements. Most of these changes went into effect on September 16, 2019, including the obligation to file annual rather than quarterly children's programming reports. The initial annual reports must be filed by March 30, 2020, on FCC Form 2100, Schedule H (formerly FCC Form 398).

Under the Commission's current guidelines, stations are required to air an average of at least three (3.0) hours of "core" children's programming per week or 156 hours annually. (Former guidelines required three hours of core programming per week per digital stream. The requirement for additional core programming attributable to multicast streams was eliminated as of September 16, 2019.) Up to one-third of a station's children’s programming can be broadcast on a multicast stream.

Core children's television programming is defined as programming that is (1) designed to meet the educational and informational needs of children aged 16 years or younger as one of its significant purposes; (2) at least 30 minutes in length; (3) identified throughout the program with the educational/informational (E/I) symbol or "bug" (now applicable to commercial stations only); (4) aired weekly at a regularly scheduled time between the hours of 6 a.m. (formerly 7) and 10 p.m.; and (5) identified at the time of airing and to program guide publishers as being "core programming" designed to educate and inform a specific age range of children.

Stations are reminded to provide the required on-air identification of core programs that are specifically designed to educate and inform children. Thus, at the beginning of each core children's program, stations should announce that the upcoming program satisfies the Commission's core children's programming requirements and display the E/I bug at the beginning and throughout the airing of the program. Core children's programming must also contain the E/I bug superimposed on the program to identify the program as meeting the educational and informational needs of children. (This requirement has been eliminated for noncommercial TV stations only.)

Stations have been fined for insufficient documentation showing compliance with the children’s programming rules or for missing documentation in their Online Public File during the license term. Accordingly, stations should prepare and post all forms and certifications required by the Commission's rules to avoid potential problems.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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