FCC praises webs for educational mandate

WASHINGTON — The FCC issued a report Tuesday declaring that the three major webs are doing a good job when it comes to meeting the agency’s mandate to air at least three hours of educational kidvid each week.

The report found that on average the networks preempted kidvid programming less than 7% of the time. In addition, the nets regularly rescheduled the preempted programming in a “second home” where viewers could easily find the shows.

CME cries whitewash

But on the same day that the Federal Communications Commission issued its report, the Center for Media Education accused the agency of letting broadcasters off the hook. A survey supported by CME which looked not only at the networks’ owned and operated stations but also at the affils found much higher preemption rates. ABC stations preempted kidvid 25% of the time, according to CME’s Jeff Chester.

In a letter sent to the FCC, lawyers associated with Georgetown University wrote, “We are concerned that the FCC’s current policies permit so many preemptions of regularly scheduled programming that the term ‘regularly scheduled’ is rendered meaningless.” CME also distributed the letter to reporters Tuesday.

Chester also said Tuesday that the nets took advantage of the exemptions allowed for news events to preempt kidvid for “parades and rodeos.”

ABC praised

Nonetheless, the FCC said in its report that the networks had little room for improvement. The shining example, according to the report, is ABC. The agency found no fault with the network’s kidvid programming. In contrast, the FCC chided both CBS and NBC for failing to put enough effort into promoting their kidvid lineups.

This is the second year of the FCC-imposed three-hour mandate. Under the rule, every TV station in the country must air at least three hours of educational kidvid each week. The networks won some leniency when it comes to preempting kidvid programming for sports. Although the FCC said it would allow a limited number of preemptions, it also ordered the networks to reschedule the shows and guide viewers toward the new air times.

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