FCC Loosens Children’s Programming Requirements

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has moved to ease programming requirements in an effort to increase regulatory flexibility during the coronavirus pandemic. The FCC’s Media Bureau issued a public notice to provide a “temporary, limited waiver to TV broadcasters to enable them to more easily air live and taped same-day local content, like religious services, during time slots regularly dedicated to children’s programming.” The temporary waiver will last through April 30. It is designed to encourage social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic by broadcasting important community programming in lieu of in-person events, especially during Easter and Passover.

The change will allow broadcasters to show important local content instead of regularly scheduled children’s programming without requiring that the replaced programming is rescheduled. Stations must tell viewers that the regularly scheduled children’s programming was preempted; stations are urged to reschedule preempted children’s programming and to provide the rescheduled information.

“Local broadcasters can make a unique contribution to our country in this difficult time,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. “On one hand, social distancing is a critical factor in enabling the mitigation of the spread of the coronavirus. On the other, we are in the midst of important holy days for so many Americans. By making it easier for local TV stations to broadcast religious services and rituals to the faithful in their homes, we can enable both social distancing and observance. I thank local broadcasters for working with us on this matter and wish everyone a safe and blessed holiday season.”

Additionally, Chairman Pai thanked radio and television broadcasters for broadcasting important information during the coronavirus pandemic, such as social distancing public service announcements, educational programming to help with distance learning, more coronavirus reporting, and holding fundraisers. Chairman Pai has asked also broadcasters to collaborate with cable and satellite operators to keep service running during the crisis, to help keep Americans informed and connected.