A politically divided FCC voted Wednesday (July 10) to give broadcasters more flexibility in providing educational/informational (E/I) programming for children, changes Democrats said dis-serve kids.

It is the first major update of the rules since they were implemented over two decades ago.

The Report & Order (R&O) preserves the three-hour-per-week mandate for E/I programming, but allows a third of that to be aired on a multicast channel, rather than on the primary channel, as the rules had required.

The R&O, among other things, also gives broadcasters an extra hour (from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. to 6 a.m.-10 p.m.) in which E/I programming satisfies the three-hours-per-week requirement and gives broadcasters the ability to count a “limited” amount of non-regularly scheduled weekly programming toward the requirement, though still requiring the “majority” of that programming to be regularly scheduled weekly, and allow a “limited” amount of short-form programming–PSAs, interstitials–but most still required to be at least a half hour.

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