CME Calls on FCC for Meaningful DTV Rules

Gary Handman (
Thu, 14 Sep 2000 08:24:35 -0700 (PDT)

>(202) 331-7833
>Ellen O'Brien - ext. 31
>Amanda Hillman - ext. 32
>CME Calls on FCC to Ensure DTV Rules on Children Are Meaningful
>FCC Meeting Considers Broadcasters Public Interest Obligations to Children
>Washington, DC -- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is meeting
>tomorrow to consider a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on "Children's
>Television Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters." The Commission
>is expected to recommend new requirements for digital broadcasters to serve
>children's educational needs, as well as safeguards tailored to protect
>children from exploitative and manipulative advertising practices in
>interactive television. The Center for Media Education (CME) filed comments
>earlier this year, calling for new children's guidelines in digital
> "Digital technology will enable television broadcasters to do much more to
>serve children's education and informational needs," said Kathryn
>Montgomery, Ph.D., president of CME. "We look to the FCC to provide clear
>guidelines for digital broadcasters to ensure that children are not
>shortchanged. We believe it is important to create a framework for serving
>children now at the beginning of the digital era, and to build into the
>foundation of digital television the necessary safeguards for protecting
>children from advertising and marketing abuses."
>CME, along with a coalition of child advocacy, education, and health groups,
>has asked the FCC to issue guidelines to ensure that digital broadcasters
>use the innovative features of this new technology to serve children's
>educational and informational needs, under the mandate of the Children's
>Television Act (CTA). Rather than simply offering more programming,
>broadcasters would be urged to:
>... Air additional "core" Educational/Informational (E/I) programming.
>... Provide broadband or datacasting services to local schools, libraries or
>community centers that serve children.
>... Support the production of children's educational programming by local
>public stations or other noncommercial program producers.
>"There is immense potential for broadcasters to use the new digital
>technology to exert a positive influence on the lives of young people," said
>Montgomery. "We look to them to take advantage of this opportunity to create
>a rich media environment for children by providing more educational and
>informational programming and services."
>The groups have also urged the Commission develop effective safeguards to
>protect children from new forms of advertising in digital television.
>"Digital technology will usher in an entirely new set of interactive
>advertising, marketing and data collection practices," explained Montgomery.
>"We want to make sure advertisers don't use digital television to link
>children to marketing Web sites." In comments filed with the FCC in March in
>response to an NPRM on public interest obligations on DTV, CME and others
>asked the FCC to:
>... Update the current rules and policies regarding advertising to children
>to ensure they are applied on all DTV program services.
>... Prohibit links to advertising or sales on Web sites or online services
>that are accessible during children's programming.
>... Apply the principles of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
>(COPPA) to DTV broadcasters collecting information from children.
>"Broadcasters have a civic responsibility to harness the power of this new
>interactive medium to truly benefit children" said Montgomery. "This week's
>scathing report from the FTC further underscores the need for all the media
>industries to serve children better."
>Calling the FCC's discussion of public interest obligations for children an
>important first step, Montgomery emphasized that there must be requirements
>for broadcasters to serve the public interest needs of all citizens. She
>cited providing free political time for political candidates as particularly
>important. "Our political discourse in this country has deteriorated
>significantly in recent years," she explained. "The rise of negative
>political advertising, the pervasiveness of 'sound-bite' journalism, the
>proliferation of 'infotainment,' and the demise of serious public affairs
>programming have all contributed to a media culture that fosters cynicism
>and alienation among many citizens and is having a profound impact on youth.
>With voter participation among young people at a record low, the public
>should be demanding that broadcasters contribute to a healthier democratic
>process, instead of just reaping profits from political advertising."
>Another issue on the FCC's agenda is the extension of the filing requirement
>for children's television programming reports (FCC Form 398). The reports
>help the public and the FCC to know how broadcasters are meeting their
>obligation to serve the educational and informational needs of children as
>established by the 1990 Children's Television Act (CTA). Comments filed in
>June by CME and 15 other groups called for broadcasters to report on
>children's programming more frequently and to make these reports and related
>information more readily available to the public. CME said, these reports
>are essential both for parental awareness of children's educational
>programming and the FCC's enforcement of its children's programming rules.
>"We are looking to the FCC to implement the recommendations in our
>comments," said Montgomery:
>... Require broadcasters to electronically file their children's television
>Educational/Informational (E/I) programming reports with the FCC on a
>quarterly rather than an annual basis.
>... Seek and provide more detailed information about how the broadcasters
>are fulfilling existing rules, such as which program guide publishers are
>provided with programming information, whether the publisher prints the
>information, and what efforts broadcasters are making to publicize the
>existence and location of their reports.
>... Require broadcast licensees to post their quarterly programming reports
>on their Web sites to increase the accessibility of this information to
>parents and the public.
>... Add a permanent, clearly identifiable link to the children's television
>page on the FCC's home page.
>(The comments submitted to the FCC and CME's statement on the FTC report are
>available at under press releases.)
>The Center for Media Education (CME) is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan
>organization dedicated to creating a quality electronic media culture for
>children, their families, and the community. CME's four-year national
>campaign led to the 1996 Federal Communications Rule requiring a weekly
>minimum of three hours of educational television programming. CME's report
>"Web of Deception" (1996) first drew attention to potentially harmful
>marketing and data-collection practices targeted at children on the Internet
>and laid the groundwork for the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
>Ellen O'Brien
>Communications Director
>Center for Media Education (CME)
>2120 L St., NW, Suite 200 202/331-7833, ext. 31
>Washington, DC 20037 fax: 202/331-7841
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Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley 94720-6000

"Everything wants to become television" (James Ulmer -- Teletheory)