FCC Orders Bugs To Crawl On Kids' TV Shows, Will Viewers Bite?

Come this fall, kids' TV shows will be bugged up, thanks to the Federal Communications Commission.

Kids' TV programmers who pitch shows as informational or educational will need to include an on-screen "educational/informational" (E/I) bug--which must be displayed throughout the entire screen time the show is aired--starting on September 19.

This process is necessary for every TV station so it can get credit toward the FCC mandated minimum of airing three hours a week of kids' educational programming. And it doesn't matter if you are a PBS outlet--non-commercial and commercial broadcasters need to air this visual notification.

One kids' marketing analyst doesn't believe this will have much effect on whether kids will watch a show or not--since kids are driven by content. But parents may be affected. The 'E/I' bug makes peace over complaints from parent advocacy groups who complain that there are few if any educational kids' TV shows.

"Parents may be surprised that certain shows are educational," said the TV marketing executive.

That may be good and bad news. Some parents' groups have already complained that some of these kids' educational TV shows are not truly educational. The new system may help parents to keep kids from watching, say programming analysts.

DIC Entertainment has built an entire syndicated network--DIC Kids Network--devoted to FCC-educational shows, which include "The Smurfs," off-PBS "Liberty's Kids", "Sabrina", "Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century," "Archie's Weird Mysteries," and "The Littles." Still, many educational shows aren't the biggest rating performers. Their existence is purely to help broadcasters comply with the FCC regulations.

The FCC has instituted other children's programming requirements, including Web site promo restrictions. This limits Web sites' advertising on mainstream commercial kids' TV shows--restrictions that will start January 1, 2006.

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