Preteen Saturday Morning Kids Shows Abandoned By Broadcast Networks
The landmark Children’s Television Act of 1990 was designed to provide educational broadcast programming for kids while limiting the amount of advertising. But an exemption has allowed the five commercial broadcast networks to increase ad time while completely abandoning programming for kids under 13. It has meant the end of an era in Saturday morning kids’ shows.
However, a footnote to the rule states that “for purposes of this section, ‘children’s programming’ refers to programs originally produced and broadcast primarily for an audience of children 12 years old and younger. If the target age for the children’s programming is over 12, the commercial limits do not apply.” This allows the stations to meet the FCC’s three-hours-a-week mandate by airing shows that only target kids aged 13-16.
To qualify for this exemption, and to run over 50% more ads than would be allowed on younger kids’ shows, all the stations have to do is tell the FCC that their target audience is children aged 13-16. And that’s what every ABC, CBS, Fox and CW station in the country has done. Quarterly reports they file with the FCC show that the target audience for every single one of their kids’ shows is now the 13-16 demographic. And NBC will be following suit later this year.
The FCC declined comment, saying: “We do not provide opinions outside our official process.”