House-passed legislation would restore limits to the amount of advertising during children's television programs, a measure opposed by the Reagan administration as "inimical" to free speech rights.
Lawmakers voted 328-78 on Wednesday for the bipartisan measure, which would limit commercials in children's programs to 101/2 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour on weekdays.In a related action Wednesday, the Senate voted approval of a bill designed to curb violence on television.
That measure, sponsored by Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., exempts members of the television industry from federal antitrust laws for three years to allow them to work together to develop voluntary standards on TV violence.
The bill, approved on a voice vote, moves to the House, where the Judiciary Committee plans to hold hearings shortly.
The FCC abandoned its children's TV advertising limits four years ago on the theory that commercials would be regulated by marketplace forces.
The House-passed bill would give TV stations until Jan. 1, 1990, to comply with new ad limits, and it would allow the FCC to modify the time standards after Jan. 1, 1993.
During debate on the bill, Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., said, "For far too long, we have allowed children's television to be driven solely by commercial considerations."
Rep. Matthew J. Rinaldo, R-N.J., ranking Republican on the subcommittee, said the measure "strikes a balance between financial support for children's programming and the desire to shield children from overexposure to commercial messages."
Opponents say the measure is misdirected and raises constitutional questions.
An administration statement said: "Attempts such as this one, to inject the federal government into programming and advertising decisions that are properly those of television broadcast licensees, are inappropriate, ill-advised and inimical to the spirit of the First Amendment."