We just wrote about the FCC talk at the NAB Convention about translator interference and pirate radio. On the TV side, there was of course mention of the remaining TV post-incentive auction transition issues with the repacking of displaced full-power stations and the open window for displaced TV translators and LPTV stations to find new homes in the remaining TV spectrum. But the other issue that came up in several regulatory conversations was reform of the Children’s Television or “KidVid” rules. As we wrote here, Commissioner O’Rielly has been put in charge of that rewrite after expressing concern that these rules did not reflect modern competitive realities (see our summary of the Commissioner’s blog post where he raised issues that he saw with the current rules). Under current rules, stations have to find three hours of educational and informational programs for their primary program channel as well as each of their digital subchannels. Particularly as the number of those subchannels could expand with ATSC 3.0, these stations will likely have difficulty finding audiences for all of that programming when the children’s audience is served by so many other outlets, including dedicated children’s channels on cable and satellite platform, and by all sorts of on-demand content.
In his speech at the Convention, Chairman Pai mentioned the efforts of Commissioner O’Rielly to review these rules. Commissioner O’Rielly, in remarks that he made at a convention breakfast, notes that he has been told that young children’s viewing of over-the-air television has precipitously dropped in recent years. At the same time, as attention spans have decreased, the FCC remains wedded to a 3 hour per week requirement for educational and informational on each programming channel offered by a TV broadcaster, and it must be provided in blocks of at least one-half hour to meet the standard review thresholds. Commissioner O’Rielly is looking for new ways for the FCC to address children’s programming requirements, and expects the FCC to start a formal proceeding to address changes in the rules by this summer. So look for more developments on this front quite soon.