Children’s TV and Three Hour Rule

By: Sydney Wall and Maria Vazquez

Over the past couple of decades, media has changed drastically and continues to change. Each generation of children is growing up in a different stage of technological and media advancements. The Children’s Television Act of 1990 made is mandatory for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “prescribe standards for commercial television broadcast licenses that limit the duration of advertising in programs for children to a specified number of minutes per hour.” This act was implemented to increase the number of educational children’s TV shows. Parents were concerned about the potential detrimental effects of television on their young children and demanded that the government enforce regulations.


The FCC created rules and guidelines that television stations must follow. Under the FCC’s regulations, television stations must:

  • Air at least three hours per week of core programs
  • Identify core programs by displaying the symbol E/I throughout the program
  • Provide parents and consumers with advance information about core programs and when they are being aired

Core programs are designed to serve the educational and informational needs of children (ages 16 and under). Core programming must be a regularly scheduled weekly program that is at least thirty minutes in length and aired between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Also there is allotted time for advertisements to air during said educational TV time. Said ad must not be related to show or have the show only advertise said product.


The Children’s Television Act of 1990 affects parents, children, and television stations. In order to get their licenses renewed, TV stations “would have to demonstrate either that they broadcast three hours of educational programs a week or that they would perform some other equivalent.” This is a potential issue because some television stations were not designed for children and the station’s writers are not trained in children’s TV. Therefore, the shows that these stations air “for children” would not be educational.

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