Educational and Informational Children's Programming

Children watching TV
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EI stands for Educational and Informational programming. It is a result of the Children's Television Act of 1990, that mandates broadcast stations to program at least three hours of educational programming a week. EI is often seen on Saturday mornings.

In creating the Children's Television Act of 1990, Congress was reacting to an FCC report that recognized the role television plays in a child's development. The CTA essentially reduces the number of commercials during children's programming and increases the amount of education and information in each show.

The Role of Television in Children's Lives

Studies show that children tend to watch television 3 or more hours a day. By the time they reach 17, children will have watched an estimated 15-20 thousand hours of television. Those hours play a significant role in the lives of children. Television influences the way they interact with their parents and peers, it exposes them to adult situations and introduces them to concepts such as respect and values.

All this time spent watching television has the possibility to benefit society by providing educational information to children. It was with this in mind that Congress developed the Children's Television Act.

Rules For Broadcast Stations

The FCC has created rules for broadcast stations to follow. According to the FCC, all stations must:

  1. Provide parents and consumers with advance information about core programs being aired.
  2. Define the programming that qualifies as core programs.
  3. Air a minimum of three hours per week of core educational programming.

Definition of Core Programming

According to the FCC,

"Core programming is programming specifically designed to serve the educational and informational needs of children ages 16 and under."

Core programming must be at least 30 minutes long, air between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. and be a regularly scheduled weekly program. Commercials are limited to 10.5 min/hour on weekends and 12 min/hour on weekdays.

Sources

Federal Communications Commission: Children's Educational Television