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Broadcasters To Start Flagging Educational TV Shows

Wed., Jan. 1, 1997

To help parents find educational TV shows for their children, broadcasters beginning this week must flag shows they classify as educational and promote them in TV listings.

The on-screen symbols or on-air announcements are different from TV ratings, designed to alert parents to a show’s sexual and violent content. Some broadcasters already have begun to air the on-screen sex-and-violence ratings tags, and CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox are supposed to begin as soon as today. Cable channel USA Network plans to start Friday, and most other cable networks and other broadcasters are expected to start rating programs sometime in January.

The educational symbols, required beginning Thursday, are part of new federal children’s television rules. At the beginning of each educational show, broadcasters plan to air an on-screen symbol “E/I” for educational/ informational.

If TV stations don’t air the symbol, they can use an on-air announcement at the beginning of the show, the Federal Communications Commission says.

“We’re encouraging the listings services to include them in the TV grids,” said Dennis Wharton, spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters.

Depending on the station, some viewers may see the symbols a lot, while others may not.

But beginning in September, all TV stations will be required for the first time to air at least three hours of educational shows each week.

The goal is to give America’s children more and higher-quality shows to watch.


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