FCC Updates Children's TV Programming Rules on Broadcast Hours and Shortform Content

Sesame Street-Photofest Still-H 2019

The FCC on Wednesday announced new rules for children's television, including pushing up the start time that broadcasters are allowed to air kids' programming in the morning.

The goal is to give broadcasters more scheduling flexibility and to enable them to offer diverse educational programming while relieving unnecessary burdens, according to the announcement. 

Now, broadcasters can air children's programming from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., beginning an hour earlier than the previous rules allowed. The FCC also increased the limit for educational specials and shortform programming to a combined 52 hours a year, which will count toward the requirement that 156 hours of regularly scheduled core programming (typically of shows 30 minutes or more in length) is aired annually. It also changes the safe-harbor processing guidelines to determine compliance and now allows broadcasters to be approved for a license renewal based on quarterly and annual totals instead of only weekly averages. 

"The updates reflect the myriad changes in the media marketplace since the FCC first adopted children’s programming rules nearly 30 years ago," said the announcement. "Children today have a wide variety of educational programming options available from broadcast and non-broadcast sources, including cable children’s networks, streaming options and online providers."