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Children's Now Takes Issue With Waiver - Broadcasting & Cable

Children's Now Takes Issue With Waiver

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Christy Glaubke, from Children Now, one of the kids activist groups that helped come up with the compromise kids TV rules, takes issue with the effort by several broadcast groups to seek a waiver of the requirement that a broadcaster carry three hours of educational shows for each DTV channel they program.

The networks and groups, including Children Now, struck a deal on compromise rules that headed off a court challenge of the FCC's DTV rules and stayed their Jan.1, 2006, adoption until the FCC can consider the compromise, including put it out for comment. The FCC is expected to approve the deal (Due to editor brain skip, a B&C item on the rules last week incorrectly suggested the FCC was expected not to approve it). It could modify them in response to the comment, however.

Allbritton, McGraw-Hill, and Media General are among the broadcast groups who planned to file comments with the FCC by close of business Monday--when public comments were due--asking for the waiver for DTV public interest channels--news, weather, politics. They argue that the FCC was simply choosing one type of public interet--kids--over another, and suggested kids shows might break up the flow of those channels.

Glaubke begs to differ. "Not only do broadcasters have the ability under the rules to program their children’s educational shows on any of their digital channels as long as they have carriage,"she told B&C,"but there is no reason to believe that a mere three hours per week of children’s educational programming would harm a public interest channel."

"Some broadcasters, such as NBC, are actually using this rule as an opportunity to create shows for kids about the weather or news,"she said.

"These programs will add much-needed diversity to the educational programming that is currently being offered to kids and may even create a new audience for weather and news programming. Finally, it is important that kids get something in return for the billions of dollars worth of spectrum that broadcasters are receiving for free."

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