You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

NAB, FCC square off over kidvid

Confident that FCC chairman Reed Hundt lacks the three FCC votes he needs to implement kidvid programming quotas, the broadcast industry’s top lobbyist last week challenged Hundt to schedule a final vote on the children’s programming issue by year-end.

The put-up-or-shut-up challenge came from National Association of Broadcasters president Edward 0. Fritts, who publicly accused Hundt of being “obsessed” with the issue of children’s programming quotas.

Fritts’ remarks were just one of several headline-grabbers on the kidvid front here last week. In addition, 25 senators led by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) fired off a letter to Hundt supporting tougher children’s TV requirements on broadcasters. The sole Republican to sign the missive was Olympia Snowe of Maine.

Also, Fox execs called a press conference here to refute Hundt’s assertion that broadcasters have done little to meet their obligations under the Children’s Television Act. “It’s very dismaying to read we’re being cavalier about the act,” said Fox Children’s Network president Margaret Loesch. “It simply isn’t true.”

To bolster its case, Fox submitted a filing at the FCC claiming Fox affiliates currently average four hours per week of children’s educational programming. That’s more than the three-hour-per-week programming requirement being sought by Hundt on all commercial TV stations.

Landers weighs in

For months, Hundt has waged an unrelenting campaign to drum up support for his three-hour plan. Hundt has indeed drawn public attention to the issue – last week even syndicated columnist Ann Landers carried a Hundt letter promoting his idea – but FCC sources say the chairman has made little headway in gaining a three-vote majority from the five FCC members.

The NAB’s Fritts took Hundt to task for stalling final action on the children’s TV issue. In a speech before Connecticut broadcasters, Fritts claimed Hundt’s staff orchestrated a four-month delay in the vote by asking broadcasters to seek an extension in the proceeding. After granting the extension, Hundt then proceeded “to blast the television industry at every opportunity,” Fritts said.

Fritts professed to be “bemused by the fact that the chairman… is so obsessed with a singular topic. One thing is certain,” Fritts said. “Chairman Hundt made up his mind long ago that broadcasters were to be castigated on children’s TV, without reservation, and despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

Game over?

In a reference to Hundt’s apparent inability to corral three votes at the FCC for his kidvid quotas, Fritts claimed the FCC chairman is “acting like a regulatory referee wanting to push the game into overtime even though the final score is lopsided.”

Hundt should call for a vote on the children’s TV proceeding at the December meeting, Fritts said. “It’s time to quit looking through the wrong end of the telescope. The 21st century is nearing fast and the regulations of the 1960s were eclipsed years ago,” he said.

Jeff Chester of the activist watchdog group Center for Media Education said Hundt deserves praise for his aggressive stand in favor of kids’ educational programming.

“What is NAB afraid of?” Chester asked. “For the first time in 15 years, there’s an FCC chairman who’s not under the thumb of the broadcast lobby.”

More TV

  • Pete Davidson Sits Out Final 'Saturday

    Pete Davidson Sits Out Final 'Saturday Night Live' Sketches of 2018

    Just hours after “Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson posted a message on social media that said he “really [didn’t] want to be on this Earth anymore,” he was absent from the final 2018 live sketches of the late-night sketch comedy show. But although Davidson did not take part in the sketches or appear [...]

  • Pete Davidson photographed by Peggy Sirota

    Pete Davidson Posts Unsettling Message, Deletes Instagram

    UPDATED: “Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson posted a disturbing message Saturday morning stating he doesn’t “want to be on this earth anymore,” then deleted his Instagram account. In the post, Davidson wrote, “I’m doing my best to stay here for you but i actually don’t know how much longer i can last. all [...]

  • Disney Channel Fires 'Andi Mack' Actor

    Disney Channel Fires 'Andi Mack' Actor Arrested for Plotting Sex With Minor

    Disney Channel has severed ties with “Andi Mack” actor Stoney Westmoreland following his arrest for allegedly trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old. “Stoney Westmoreland, an actor working on the series ‘Andi Mack,’ was arrested in Salt Lake City today,” a Disney Channel spokesperson said in a statement Friday. “Given the nature of [...]

  • Russian Doll

    TV News Roundup: Natasha Lyonne's 'Russian Doll' Sets Netflix Premiere Date

    On Friday’s roundup, Netflix announces the premiere date for “Russian Doll” and Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Brexit” film has a premiere date on HBO FIRST LOOKS Showtime has released a new teaser for the upcoming comedy series, “Black Monday,” which will premiere Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The series stars and is executive produced by Don [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content