FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 24, 2018
RELEASE: NHMC FILED REPLY COMMENTS OPPOSING THE FCC’S PROPOSALS TO DEREGULATE CHILDREN’S PROGRAMMING RULES, ARGUING THAT THE FCC’S PROPOSALS WILL DECREASE QUALITY AND ACCESSIBILITY FOR DISADVANTAGED CHILDREN
WASHINGTON D.C. – The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) submitted reply comments to oppose the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) sweeping proposals to eliminate a series of current children’s programming rules, which will have a disproportionately negative impact on low-income and minority children who still rely on broadcast television. NHMC urged the FCC to delay the upcoming proceeding in order to conduct the requisite data analysis on the deleterious effects of its proposals.
It has been more than 20 years since the children’s programming rules were first ratified, and since, the media landscape has changed significantly, allowing children’s programming to be made available through numerous outlets. The FCC has offered a series of proposals to modify the “outdated” children’s programming rules, including providing broadcasters even more flexibility to choose how to serve the educational and informational needs of America’s children.
“We agree that the time is ripe to modernize children’s programming to meet the needs of the 21st century media market,” said Francella Ochillo, NHMC’s vice-president of policy and general counsel. “However, it is highly problematic for the Commission to reconstruct the regulatory framework without taking all children into consideration. Namely, children in low-income households, as well as households without broadband access are unable to take advantage of educational programming alternatives and still rely on free broadcast television.”
Various conclusions throughout the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) will make access even more difficult for the nation’s disadvantaged children. For example, the Commission suggests that:
- It is no longer necessary to require more than three hours per week of educational/informational programming to children, but does not provide any analysis on the far-reaching impact of this change.
- Children’s educational programming need not be regularly scheduled to count toward the guidelines. Yet, the NPRM fails to explain how parents and children will be able to find programming that is not regularly scheduled.
- Programming no longer needs to be full length (30 minutes) to qualify as core programming. Notably, the NPRM does not provide any research to justify departure from the 30-minute requirement, which was is backed by scientific research and expert testimony previously accepted by the Commission.
- Quarterly children’s television reports serve no useful purpose, again, without citing any evidence to support this conclusion other than being an inconvenience to broadcasters.
Therefore, the NHMC urges the FCC to press pause on this proceeding to conduct the requisite data collection and analysis. The Commission has yet to evaluate the unintended consequences of the current proposals. Children in low-income and marginalized communities who have the most at stake will shoulder the greatest burden.
NHMC is committed to access and media diversity. It will continue its work to ensure that children from low-income and marginalized populations are able to access and enjoy a free, over-the-air, educational and informational programming in the 21st century media market.
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The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is the media watchdog for the Latino community, ensuring that we are fairly and consistently represented in news and entertainment and that our voices are heard over the airwaves and on the internet.
We exist to challenge executives and influencers throughout the entertainment and news industry to eliminate barriers for Latinos to express themselves and be heard through every type of medium. NHMC works to bring decision-makers to the table to open new opportunities for Latinos to create, contribute and consume programming that is inclusive, free from bias and hate rhetoric, affordable and culturally relevant.