CCFC Says It Urged Congress To Require FCC Bus Report

The FCC has given commenters until June 15 to weigh in and reply comments are due June 29

The FCC put out a request for comment this week on a report it must produce for Congress on “commercial proposals for broadcasting radio or television programs for reception onboard specially-equipped school buses operated by, or under contract with, local public educational agencies.”

According to Josh Golin, of the Campaign For a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), the group worked with Senator Byron Dorgan (D-SD) to get the language inserted in the FCC's 2009 appropriation.

The appropriations bill directs the commission to produce a report within six months on "the nature of the material proposed to be broadcast and whether it is age appropriate for the passengers; the amount and nature of commercial advertising to be broadcast; and whether such broadcasts for reception by public school buses are in the public interest."

According to Golin, its concern was prompted by BusRradio, a Needham, Mass.-based company which has partnered with school districts to deliver the ad- supported service to kids 6-18 on more than 10,000 buses in 170 school districts in 24 states. It produces eight hours of "age-appropriate music, original programming and public service announcements" for elementary, middle school, and high school kids.

Golin is concerned that the kids are a captive audience for advertising. Golin said he knows of no proposal for a similar television service, but says it is certainly feasible given the lengths to which marketers are going to target children. "It's a business model that's out there now, so I am sure there are those tinkering with the idea of a TV service," he says.

Dorgan's spokesperson had not returned a call by press time, and a spokesman for BusRadio was not reachable at press time. But the BusRadio Web site includes a list of "Myth vs. Reality" categories in which it addresses the criticisms of CCFC and others, including the age-appropriateness of its music or the appropriateness of its ads..

The FCC has given commenters until June 15 to weigh in. Reply comments are due June 29.