Last week, the FCC issued a Public Notice asking for information as to the compliance of television broadcasters with their obligations to provide programming that addresses the educational and informational needs of children. While the Notice indicates that it is a follow-up to the 2004 Order addressing the children’s broadcasting obligations of digital television broadcasters, the notice also refers to the $24 million settlement with Univision to resolve allegations that it had misclassified entertainment programming as being educational programming addressed to children. The Commission asks questions in its notice as to whether television broadcasters are complying with the rules, and whether the rules provide sufficient guidance to broadcasters as to what kind of programming satisfies the rules for educational broadcasting.
We wrote about the Univision settlement agreement, here. It is interesting that the FCC, after issuing the largest broadcast fine in history to Univision, apparently rejecting the arguments that Univision made that its programming was in compliance, now asks whether the rules provide enough guidance for broadcasters to know whether or not particular programs comply. As we’ve written before in many contexts, whenever the government gets into issues of defining when speech is acceptable or not, guidelines and limits are difficult or impossible to establish. Nevertheless, the Commission is now asking that parties help to clarify the definition of educational programming directed to children. Comments are due 30 days after publication of this Notice in the Federal Register, and reply comments are due 15 days later.