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FCC Relaxes Rules on Kid-Vid and PSA Sponsorship IDs

- List of All Pandemic-Related Actions

The FCC continues its push to relax, albeit temporarily, certain broadcaster regulations and deadlines, the latest involving pre-emption of children’s programming and sponsorship identification for COVID-19 public service announcements. A complete list of pandemic-related FCC actions to date follows below.

Limited Waiver to Pre-Empt Children’s Programming

In an attempt to encourage “social distancing”, the FCC has issued a limited waiver until April 30 for full power and Class A TV stations to pre-empt children’s programming  in order to broadcast programming live (or recorded the same-day) of community events at which the public cannot attend, such as religious services.

The FCC’s move came just in time for broadcasts of Easter church services.

Peter Tannenwald, an attorney with TAB Associate member law firm Fletcher Heald and Hildreth wrote recently in the firm’s CommLawBlog that normally, when a children’s program is pre-empted, the pre-empted episode must be rescheduled within seven days, and the station must announce on the air when the episode will air.

“Otherwise, while pre-emption is not forbidden, the pre-empted episode will not count toward the annual children’s programming requirement,” Tannenwald said.

Under the waiver, rescheduling is encouraged, and an episode pre-empted for a qualifying local program “may still be counted toward the three-hour weekly children’s requirement, even if it is not rescheduled.”

Tannenwald cautioned that on-air announcements must still be made that a children’s program was pre-empted, but the announcement need not include information about rescheduling.

“Stations must keep records of pre-emptions and must report all pre-emptions, whether episodes are rescheduled or not, in their next annual Children’s Television Report, to be filed in January of 2021,” Tannenwald said.

Sponsored COVID-19 PSAs

The FCC is waiving its sponsorship identification requirements until June 30 on certain sponsored COVID-19 PSAs.

Some businesses with signed broadcast advertising contracts have donated their paid time in order for broadcasters to run Centers for Disease Control and other governmental COVID-19 PSAs.

“Normally, when a commercial entity pays for a PSA, including a PSA for an unrelated entity, the identity of the paying party must be disclosed when the PSA is aired,” said Tannenwald.

“For example, if a local car dealership pays for time used by the county public health commission, the county public health commission PSA would need to identify that the time was paid for by the car dealership.”

In this case, Tannenwald said, the FCC’s waiver is optional. 

“If an entity that pays for a PSA wishes to be identified on the air, and a broadcaster is willing to identify the payer, such identification is permissible,” Tannenwald said.

Recap of other FCC actions postponing, relaxing or waiving certain required actions and deadlines

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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