Months before COVID-19, the FCC voted to loosen broadcasters’ obligations to carry core “educational and informative” content across their networks. The National Association of Broadcasters thanked the FCC profusely, touting that obligations to carry “low-rated children’s programming” would have serious economic consequences when stations were already dealing with shrinking profits.
Little did they realize that in just a matter of months, schools across the country would morph into remote learning modalities, placing television and public airwaves in the role of providing educational content for many American families.
FCC commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks practically prophesized the grave risks of relaxing FCC children’s programming rules when they issued their dissenting statements back in July of 2019. Both commissioners championed the value of quality educational programming in a rapidly changing media landscape, where the digital divide was becoming more pervasive every day. Starks even went so far as to say that