CHAIRMAN REED E. HUNDT
ON ADOPTION OF CHILDREN'S EDUCATIONAL
Our vote today is the most important vote for children and education ever cast at the Commission.
There are many dimensions to its significance. First, today's action demonstrates our willingness to listen to the American people and, at their request, to try to improve the impact of broadcast television on our contry.
For example, we received 20,000 letters and emails from people urging more educational TV. One wrote: We want more educational TV. You know it's the right thing. You're the government. Just do it.
Well, we just did it.
Second, this vote airms that market valus are not the same as family values, and our cncern outht to be with both. Even though the marketplace provides many television shows that interest the public, the public interest requires asking broadcasrers to take steps that do not necessarily maximize pofits but that further the different and all-important purpose of helping educate the next generation.
Third, our new three-page rule is a simple, straightforward, practical way to create a world in which the creative community can invent a whole new art form: the art of teaching children with television.
It has been thought impossible tha tcommercial television could provide a large amount of this programming. It has been thogut impossible that networks would compete to teach children well. It has been thought impossible that major advertisers would find it desirable to be associated with high quality educational shows.
Especially in America, the impossible is impossible unil some inventor or some idea or some force makes it inevitable. With our vote today the impossible becomes inevitable. The impossibility of teaching kids over TV becomes an inevitable part of the future of broadcast televisiion.
Fourth, our decision reflects a sensitive and well-informed respect for the Constitution. It acknowledges as Congress specically did in enacting the Children's Television Act, that the scarce airwaves are owned by the public, and that as trustees of those airwaves broadcasters can be required to provide public interest programming. Clear, viewpoint-neutral rules that further the powerful interest in educating our children are consistent with the text, origins and judical interpretation of the First Amendment, and I have no doubt that our new children's television rule will be upheld in court if challenged.
Our vote today is a triumph for the many citizen's groups that have advocated on this issue. It is particularly a victory for the indefatigable Peggy Charren, who in 26 years of vehement effort for kids has proved thas tone person can make a difference. It is also victory for the Center for Media Education and, specifically, for Jeff Chester and Kathryn Montgomery. It is a victory for Children Now, for the National PTA, for hundreds of local PTAs, and for countless other education and children's advocacy groups.
Our vote is a victory that would not have been possible without the support of the President and Vice President, the inspired leadership of Congressman Ed Markey and Senator Joe Lieberman, Senators and Congressmen of both parties, and the many people at the Commission who for many days, weeks, years and even decades have wante the FCC to guarantee that free over the air television did more to help educate kids.
This victory also depended upon the willingness of broadcasters and my colleagues on the Commission to find common ground. I thank my colleagues for their commitment to the goal of delivering on the promise of television for all Americans, especially the yunges generatiion. And I thank broadcasters for joining us on this common ground. They will compete to invent new educational shows. They will compete to build audiences for those shows. They will earn the high honor of teaching kids. The result is one we can all celebrate: broadcastrs will air three hours per week of truly educational programming.
Ultimately our new rules will be most successful if and only if broadcasters, advertisers, and the creative cmmunity embrace a new ethic of enthusiastic pursuit of the goal of teaching kids with television. This ethic cannot be commanded or coerced by the Commission. I hope our long campaign has converted some to join the ques for discovering how TV can be reinvented to be wholly new and better for kids. Our rule will mitigate some of the pressures of the marketplace that could undercut this new ethic. But ultimately for every broadcaster the spirit has to be willing fo the purpose of the rule to be fulfilled. I hope and believe that our marvelously creative broadcast business will answer the country's call fr a new kind of television. A whole generation will be the better for it.
As we take this historic step, I want specifically to congratulate and thank Blair Levin, Julius Genachowski and Karen Kornbluh. There are also many others who deserve thanks, including our Mass Media Bureau Chief, our General Counsel and their dedicated and hardworking staffs. But I hope the others will forgive me for singling out these three public commendation and the respect of all Americans.