GAO: Kids' TV Needs More Content, Ad Oversight
The U.S. Government Accountability Office says there must be more oversight for kids' programming, especially for cable and satellite broadcasters.
While there have been over 7,000 self-reported violations of the Children's Television Act, mostly pertaining to advertising issues -- and resulting in $3 million in fines -- no cable or satellite providers have reported any violations, according to a recent report by the federal agency.
Apart from this, the GAO says only seven cable and satellite kids' programming/advertising incidents have been found by the Federal Communications Commission's oversight efforts -- even though cable and satellite companies air significantly more kids' programming than broadcasters.
The original Children's Television Act -- initiated in 1990 -- focused on TV stations. But cable systems were also required to keep some advertising records -- just like TV stations -- so that regulators such as the FCC could monitor their behavior.
But TV stations are not immune to criticism from the report. Advertising issues pertaining to all kids' programming have been "uneven," according to the GAO. Per the Children's TV Act, no more than 10.5 minutes of commercial time per hour are allowed on weekends, and 12 minutes per hour during the week.
The GAO recommends more voluntary guidelines for assessing the educational value of children's programming, as well as starting up other messaging efforts to inform parents about core children's programming.
The GAO says parents believe requirements governing such programming should be more stringent than current rules; they also see broadcast station involvement as a potential conflict of interest.
The report says the FCC has reached agreement with media stakeholders to resolve issues related to the Children's Television Act and the development of the voluntary television rating system.
In 2006, the FCC added in restrictions for advertising on kid-targeted Internet Web sites.