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FCC postpones URL rules for children’s programming till next year

The FCC postponed until Jan. 1, 2006 the effective deadline for implementing certain provisions of its new rules covering children’s programming and digital television.

The new deadline pertains to language in the Sept. 9, 2004, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making covering the insertion of URL information into programming aimed at children 12 years old and younger.

Specifically, the Jan. 1, 2006 deadline applies to four criteria the Report and Order established for a Web site promoted during programs, including:

  • it offers a substantial amount of bona fide program-related or other noncommercial content;
  • it is not primarily intended for commercial purposes, including either e-commerce or advertising;
  • the Web site’s home page and other menu pages are clearly labeled to distinguish the noncommercial from the commercial sections;
  • the page of the Web site to which viewers are directed by the Web site address is not used for e-commerce, advertising, or other commercial purposes.

The commission announced the new deadline Jan. 31. It postponed implementation because broadcasters, cable operators and programmers said they were unprepared for the new requirements and did not have sufficient time to put them into effect.

The commission also announced that stations must begin using new rules restricting the total amount of commercial matter allowed in an hour of children’s programming by Feb. 3 instead of Feb. 1. The two-day delay from the original plan results from the Report and Order not being published in the Federal Register until Jan. 3.

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