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Reports & Research

Updated: November 21, 2008


Children Now releases

Eduationally Insufficient?
An Analysis of the Availability and Educational Quality of Children's E/I Programming

In 1990, Congress enacted the Children's Television Act (CTA) which required television stations to air three hours a week of educational programming in exchange for the free use of publicly-owned airwaves.  However, there is a missing element within the CTA, basic standards by which to qualify and quantify the content of educational programming.  Standards delineating what constitutes "educational" programming are open to interpretation and, as a consequence, have led to shows such as The Flintstones being used by broadcasters to fulfill their weekly three-hour obligation.

A recent study by Children Now, a California-based research group, sought to address the issue surrounding qualifying suitable programming for broadcast networks. Children Now looked at a number of programs that were being presented by networks as educational and developed a 3-point six criteria scale rating the quality of those shows.  Children Now looked specifically at the clarity, integration, involvement, applicability, importance, and reward mechanisms of the educational element of each episode.

From this study, Children Now devised a number of recommendations for both the FCC and the industry itself.  Strengthened guidelines and active monitoring by the FCC should be implemented.  The industry should not hold itself to just three hours a week and only on the weekend, but should seek to expand their current educational programming availability.  Development of programs using the 3-point six criteria scale used by Children Now to evaluate programming or something akin should be implemented.

For more information on this study, or to read it in its entirety, visit Children Now at