RULE 4: Programming Considerations

  1. Children's Programming. Offers may be made in limited situations in connection with children's programming. Where educational enrichment and support materials are available, this information may be conveyed to parents and educators in the manner set forth below. All determinations as to what constitutes children's programming will be made by PBS, taking into account, among other things, intended audience, actual audience (if known), program content and time of broadcast.

    • Any offers approved for children's programs will be clearly intended for and directed to parents or other adults, never children. The style and tone of the announcement must be generic and value-neutral in character, with voice-over delivery, if any, provided by an adult. No characters from the program may be used.

    • Only one announcement, maximum 15 seconds, will be permitted per program. The availability of multiple items may be referenced in this announcement, as set forth below.

    • The voice-over announcement should state, "For information about companion educational material(s) for this program, please call 1-800-000-0000."

    • The video treatment for the offer should be limited to text on screen and the telephone number/address over a neutral background.

    • Any offers approved for inclusion in children's programs will placed after the PBS logo to enable stations to delete such items in their sole discretion.

    • Offers in connection with preschool programs will be stringently evaluated based on educational value, urgency, and other such factors that may militate in favor of inclusion. In general, video offers will not be approved for preschool programs.

    • "Mentions" that allude to a purchase but do not directly or indirectly offer to sell such materials (e.g., "Ghostwriter companion books are available in libraries and bookstores nationwide") are considered "offers" for these purposes. In place of the "for information, call" announcement, we will consider allowing a mention consistent with the Ghostwriter example given above. The voiceover may specify no more than two types of educational materials (such as books and software).

    • The materials so offered or mentioned must meet all other requirements of these Guidelines.

    • A purely library or pro-literacy message (e.g., "Arthur books, and lots of other books, are available in your local library") connected with a children's program, including preschool programs, will not necessarily be subject to these limitations, although it still must be approved in advance.

    Comment: This policy is designed to assist parents and educators while avoiding any inference that children are being exploited.

  2. Programming Involving Issues of Public Importance. Only "transcript-like" materials (e.g., printed transcripts and audio and video cassette transcriptions) may be offered in connection with programs involving controversial issues of current public importance. PBS recognizes, however, that there may be circumstances where it would be appropriate to permit the offering of other than transcript-like materials and will use its best judgment to determine whether certain materials would enhance viewer participation in and the effectiveness or educational value of such programs without undermining their journalistic integrity. All determinations as to what are programs involving issues of public importance will be made by PBS.

    Comment: Every effort should be made to maintain the journalistic integrity of programs involving issues of public importance. This rule is intended to avoid the perception which certain program-related materials might convey that such materials have been offered to promote particular points of view.

  3. Underwriter's Interest. Principles articulated in the PBS underwriting guidelines apply to an underwriter's participation in the offering of program-related goods and services. Hence, underwriters may participate in the distribution of revenue from the sale of program-related materials, but they may not exercise or have the right to exercise control over and may not hold rights in program-related offers. Additionally, offers of program-related materials which are blatantly commercial or self-congratulatory, such that a reasonable public could conclude that the offer is made or the program was funded to promote those interests, may be unacceptable. The PBS underwriting guidelines should be consulted for further guidance.

    Comment: Since program-related materials must be direct extensions of a program or series' content, they are subject to the same principles as the programs themselves. Therefore, the principles contained in the PBS underwriting guidelines addressing editorial integrity and preserving the noncommercial character of public television will apply to an underwriter's participation in the offering of program-related goods and services.