By: Amanda Pape and Megan Malewich
In 1990 Congress passed the Children’s Television Act which was implemented by the FCC, which mandates educational television on commercial broadcasting stations for children. The Act requires a “Three-hour Rule,” which requires broadcasting stations to air a minimum of three hours of educational or “Core” programs per week. It also limits the amount of time that cable operators can devote to advertisements during children’s programs. It also regulates which advertisements can be shown during certain children’s programs, for example, if the show Spongebob is on, a commercial cannot depict a character from Spongebob to advertise their product. The FCC uses the Three-hour rule as a guideline for broadcasting stations, but does not regularly screen the stations to make judgments about whether the programs are educational or not, instead it regulates based on complaints from concerned viewers. Based on a station’s complaint record, the FCC will either renew or reject a station’s license. Another issue is that parents don’t understand “E/I” symbol used to represent educational programming, so were not aware of when educational programs were being aired. Many programs being aired are pro-social, teaching lessons like loyalty, honesty, and cooperation rather than education based, like math, science, and reading. This posed a problem of what programs were actually educational.
In January, 2000, the FCC required all televisions to have a “V-chip.” The V-chip is a device that allows parents to block certain television programs that they don’t want their children to watch. This is based off of television program ratings. The V-chip device is still in place today, yet most parents are not aware of how to use it, so it is not really effective.