FCC Provides TV Stations Flexibility to Air Local Community Events to Support Social Distancing

 

  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

WASHINGTON — As part of the FCC’s ongoing efforts to increase regulatory flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Media Bureau issued a Public Notice that provides a temporary, limited waiver to TV broadcasters to enable them to more easily air live and taped same-day local content, like religious services, during time slots regularly dedicated to children’s programming. This flexibility will allow broadcasters to encourage social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic by airing important community programming that can substitute for live in-person attendance at events, such as Easter religious services or Passover seders.

“Local broadcasters can make a unique contribution to our country in this difficult time,” said Chairman Pai.  “On one hand, social distancing is a critical factor in enabling the mitigation of the spread of the coronavirus. On the other, we are in the midst of important holy days for so many Americans.  By making it easier for local TV stations to broadcast religious services and rituals to the faithful in their homes, we can enable both social distancing and observance.  I thank local broadcasters for working with us on this matter and wish everyone a safe and blessed holiday season.”

In order to promote social distancing, the Bureau’s waiver allows broadcasters to air important local community content in place of weekly, regularly scheduled children’s programming without the requirement that it be rescheduled. The Bureau continues to require that stations inform viewers that children’s programming has been preempted and encourages stations to reschedule any pre-empted children’s programs and provide any rescheduling information that they can to viewers. The limited waiver will remain in effect through April 30.

Chairman Pai has thanked radio and television broadcasters for their tireless efforts during the coronavirus outbreak, including running public service announcements on social distancing, airing educational programming to help with distance learning, expanding COVID-19 reporting, and holding fundraisers to help those who have faced financial hardship due to the virus. He has also asked broadcasters to work with cable and satellite operators to avoid service disruptions during the pandemic. More information on the Commission’s work during the coronavirus pandemic is available at: https://www.fcc.gov/coronavirus.

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