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FCC Proposes Rules for Education TV

March 18, 2006|From Bloomberg News

Rules proposed Friday by the Federal Communications Commission would require broadcasters to air at least three hours of children's educational television programs each week.

The proposed rules also would limit on-air broadcasters' use of characters such as Viacom Inc.'s SpongeBob SquarePants to hawk products on the Internet during TV shows.

The rules, recommended as part of a three-year transition to digital broadcasting in the U.S., don't apply to cable or satellite TV channels.

If adopted, the rules would be among the first FCC mandates to shape programming by broadcast networks as they switch from analog to digital signals. Broadcasters must convert to digital signals, which promise to provide clearer images and sound, by February 2009. The proposed rules mirror an earlier voluntary measure.

The FCC proposals follow a December agreement between media companies and child-advocacy groups. Under the voluntary arrangement, broadcasters agree to air at least three hours of educational children's programs each week and refrain from using characters in ads starting March 1.

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