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Staff Reports on Children's Educational Television

Three-Year Review of Broadcaster Implementation of the Children's Television Rules

The FCC reported on January 18, 2001 that commercial television licensees have made many efforts to comply with the scheduling and promotional rules for children's educational and informational programming and are complying with the three-hour core programming guideline established in the 1996 Children's Television Report and Order.

The FCC released a report on its three-year review (1997-1999) of the quarterly Children's Television Programming Reports (FCC Form 398) that commercial licensees are required to file with the Commission. The Commission used a sample of 130 commercial television stations, more than 10% of all commercial stations, that included affiliates of ABC, CBC, Fox, NBC, PaxTV, UPN, WB, religious broadcasters, such as Trinity Broadcasting Network, Univision, Telemundo, and other independent, unaffiliated networks.

  • Core Programming: The Report said the average amount of core children's TV programming (defined as specifically designed with a significant purpose to meet the educational and informational needs of children's ages 16 and under) aired by commercial broadcasters is approximately four hours per week. It said that more than one-half of commercial stations air three or three and one-half hours, but some stations, including independents, religious broadcasters and UPN affiliates air nearly twice that much. Most core programs reported were 30 minutes in length. Under the rules, core programs must be at least 30 minutes long and aired between 7:00 AM and 10:00 PM.


  • Preemption: The Report said the average preemption rate for all stations for core programming is 5.4%. Preemptions for affiliates of the three largest networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) are higher (approximately 9.8%), generally due to network coverage of national sporting events, with preemptions occurring more than twice as often (16%) in the West as in the East (6%).


  • Public Information Initiatives: The Report found that virtually all sampled stations reported supplying program guides with information identifying each core program aired on its station, including an indication of the target child audience. It also found that stations were complying with FCC requirements to identify each core program at the beginning of the airing of each program, and to publicize the existence and location of the station's Children's Television Programming reports.

Three Year Review of the Implementation of the Children’s Television Rules and Guidelines 1997-1999
News Release | Report | Tables  ]


Requests for Flexibility to Preempt Children's Educational and Informational Programming

The Commission opened a public notice period for filing comments on the separate letters submitted by the ABC, CBS and NBC television networks requesting continued, limited flexibility to preempt children's "core" programming, i.e., programming specifically designed to serve the educational needs of children, during the 1999-2000 television season. Public comment was sought to assist the Bureau in evaluating the networks' preemption, rescheduling and notification practices and promotional efforts during the 1998-1999 season, and to help the Bureau in determining the appropriateness of permitting limited flexibility in preempting core children's programs for the 1999-2000 television season.



Prior to the Public Notice period referenced above, three television networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) requested that the Commission accord stations continued, limited flexibility in preempting regularly scheduled children's educational and informational, or "core," programming for the 1998-1999 television season.

The requests for a continuation of the prior year's policy are made avalailable below.

Get a copy of the Letter from ABC, Inc.: ABC
Get a copy of the Letter from NBC, Inc.: NBC
Get a copy of the Letter from CBS, Inc.: CBS

To obtain information about the Acrobat file format and the free reader available from Adobe.



Staff Report on the Effect of Preemption on Children's Educational and Informational Programming
1997-98 Television Season

This staff report by the Mass Media Bureau's Policy and Industry Analysis Branch, Policy and Rules Division, provided information to the Commission regarding the effect of preemption on children's educational and informational, or "core" programming, and the impact of promotion and other steps taken by broadcast television stations to make children's educational programming a success. This report fulfilled a commitment the Bureau made in July 11, 1997 letter rulings to ABC, Inc. (ABC), CBS Corporation (CBS) and National Broadcasting Company, Inc. (NBC), in response to their separate requests for clarification of the children's television educational and informational programming regulations that became effective on September 1, 1997.

The Bureau found the networks' proposals to be consistent with the Commission's goals and appropriate while the Commission and broadcasters gain experience with the new children's programming rules. However, the Bureau said that it would revisit its conclusions, based on the experience gained during the 1997-1998 television season, and report to the Commission regarding the effect of its decision on children's educational and informational programming.

The text of the staff report is available in WordPerfect 5.1 format. The Appendices are available as an Excel 4.0 workbook. The full report is available in Acrobat (pdf) format


The Effect of Preemption on Children's Educational and Informational Programming, 1997-1998
WordPerfect 5.1 | Appendix 1-6 (Excel) | Report and Appendix (Acrobat) ]


In 1997, three television networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) requested clarification of the children's television educational and informational programming regulations that become effective on September 1, 1997. In particular, they requested clarification regarding preemption of regularly scheduled children's educational and informational, or "core," programming.

The Mass Media Bureau's response to the request for clarification is made avalailable below.

Get a copy of the Letter to ABC, Inc. [Text / Wordperfect]
Get a copy of the Letter to CBS, Inc. [Text / Wordperfect]
Get a copy of the Letter to NBC, Inc. [Text / Wordperfect]





If you would like more information pertaining to the Media Bureau, please call: (202) 418-7200.

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