Children's television programming isn't just about cartoon characters or actors dressed up in funny suits; it's also a profitable, growing sector of the entertainment industry. And with children watching an estimated three hours of television every day, it's also something that has broad reach. This is especially appealing to advertisers, who spend millions of dollars each year on marketing designed specifically to air during children's programming. But because children's television programs reach so many children, and have so much influence over them, the government has also tightened its restrictions on children's programs and the advertising that airs during them.
If you're interested in working for children's television, you'll want to start with thorough research into this rapidly evolving field. To understand the complexities of children's TV programming, consider:
- How networks choose story ideas for children's TV programming.
- What is prohibited by federal law, in the children's TV programs themselves and in the advertising.
- What it takes to work in children's programming.
Seek out children's educational television programsChildren's TV programming is much more than entertainment; in many cases, it's a child's first introduction to learning. Increasingly, production companies are focusing on programs that are both educational and entertaining, so that children will be more engaged, and will turn to educational programs rather than video games or TV shows that are violent or lack substance. And, many of these educational programs have the largest following of all, spawning everything from coloring books to toys to DVDs. Take a look at what's already out there, to gain a greater understanding of what the field entails.
Know the laws regulating children's television programmingThe federal government continually re-evaluates and refines its policies toward children's programming, so what was acceptable last year may not be allowed now. There are requirements regarding how much children's programming broadcast stations must air, when it must air, and how much commercial time is allowed. And, all children's television programming carries a rating; if you're working in children's programming, you'll need to understand how these ratings work, so you can tailor your content to the appropriate age group.
Federal Communications Commission oversees the laws regulating children's TV programs, and at the FCC site you can also research TV ratings and be connected to other resources concerning these ratings. Keep up with the latest changes in children's TV programming at the Broadcast Law Blog, which regularly posts updates in its children's programming section.
Research jobs in children's televisionIntrigued by the increasing variety and sophistication of children's television programming? Maybe you'd do well with a career in children's television -- after all, it is both creative and rewarding. And there's a role for every kind of professional, whether you're a writer, a graphic artist, or director, or if you work on the business end, in marketing or accounting, for example.
- The FCC has established a set of criteria specifically for digital broadcasters, so when you're researching federal laws regulating children's TV programming, make sure you find information about children's television programming that applies to your situation.