FCC Reexamines Guidelines for Kids' TV

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FEDERAL regulators are seeking comment on whether local television stations are complying with the law when they claim that cartoon shows like "The Jetsons" and "GI Joe" are educational for children.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is wrestling with rules it established two years ago to enforce the Children's Television Act, which requires broadcasters applying for license renewals to demonstrate how they have served children's educational needs.

Activists who lobbied for the law have complained that standards of enforcement are too low. The House subcommittee that oversees television issues will delve into the matter at a public hearing next week. Meanwhile, the FCC says there has been no significant increase in children's programming since the rules came out and broadcasters "may remain uncertain as to the scope of their obligations."

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Rather than creating shows to fit the law's requirements, stations too often redefine existing programs as educational, said Kathryn Montgomery of the Center for Media Education. The advocacy group surveyed 58 stations in various market sizes late last year to see what programs they were telling the FCC fit the law's requirements.

They found some broadcasters were claiming shows like "The Jetsons" educate children about the 21st century.

The FCC asked for comments by April 23 on how the rules and policies being used by the commission to enforce the law should be changed to "more clearly identify the levels and types of programming necessary in the long term to adequately serve the educational and informational needs of children."

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