WASHINGTON - The FCC said Friday it would delay implementation of new rules governing children's programming on digital television to consider an agreement struck by entertainment companies and children's advocates.
The rules, which were to have taken effect Jan. 1, would require that digital broadcasters bump up the amount of children's programming they offer if they multicast, or subdivide their allotment of spectrum into multiple channels.
The rules also would impose limits on advertising and the pre-empting of children's programming to air live sporting events, as well as require that educational and informational programming be labeled with an on-screen "E/I" logo.
Since the Federal Communications Commission adopted the rules in September 2004, both entertainment companies, including The Walt Disney Co. and Viacom Inc., and children's advocates, including the United Church of Christ, went to court to seek changes.
The two parties later began meeting to hash out their differences. On Thursday they announced that they had reached a compromise that satisfies the concerns of both parties, according to the FCC.
The FCC said it would give that compromise agreement "serious consideration." It was not immediately clear how long the process, which includes soliciting public comment, would take.
The FCC now requires a broadcaster to air three hours of children's shows each week on its main analog channel. A broadcaster would have to add another three hours of children's shows for each additional 24-hour multicast channel, according to the rules as adopted last year.
More than 1,300 local TV stations are airing both analog and digital pictures. By 2007, all of the nation's 1,700 broadcast stations are supposed to make the transition to digital. ---
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