The Federal Communications Commission has delayed renewing the licenses of seven TV stations in Ohio and Michigan until they can prove they are meeting the educational needs of children.
Letters were sent to the stations this week seeking further documentation of their kidvid educational efforts.
The action represents the first time the FCC has held up a station license renewal since Congress passed children’s TV legislation two years ago.
The targeted stations are Ohio’s Fox affiliate WRGT-TV, Dayton, and ABC affil WYTV-TV, Youngstown; independents WGPR-TV, Detroit, and WADL-TV, Mt. Clemens, Mich.; and religious broadcasting outlets WAQP-TV, Saginaw, Mich.; WTLW-TV, Lima , Ohio, and WDLI-TV, Canton, Ohio.
The new law requires broadcasters to meet the educational needs of moppets, and limits advertising to 10 1/2 minutes per hour during kidvid weekend hours and 12 minutes on weekdays.
A number of broadcasters have been criticized by public-interest groups for claiming that programs such as “Leave It to Beaver” and “The Jetsons” are sufficiently “educational” to comply with the law.
Oversight hearings are being planned by House telecommunications subcommittee chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to investigate the issue.
Barbara Kreisman, head of the FCC’s video services division, said it is “unlikely” any of the targeted seven stations will lose their license. If the stations are found to have deliberately avoided complying with the law, however, they could be fined, given a warning, or be renewed for less than the typical five years granted by the FCC.