US media companies and consumer groups have reached agreement on new rules for digital TV that would require broadcasters to expand children's educational programming and limit the use of the internet for promotional tie-ins.

The accord, which is subject to approval by the regulator, the Federal Communications Commission, would lessen the impact of new FCC rules due to come on stream January 1.

Broadcasters have gained greater flexibility to pre-empt educational shows for live sports at weekends. TV station owners would also be allowed to promote other children's shows without those ads counting against a 12-to-10.5 minute cap on paid advertising that can be shown during educational programs.

In addition, media companies would have been banned from showing web addresses linking to pages in which program characters sold products.

Outraged media companies were challenging the restrictions in court, while consumer groups were arguing for them to be tougher.

The Children's Media Policy Coalition and the media companies, including Viacom, Walt Disney and NBC Universal are happy with the compromise option and optimistic that the FCC will embrace it.

Patti Miller, vp of kids' advocacy group Children Now describes the agreement as: "a big win for kids. Children will now have more options for educational programming and be protected from unhealthy advertising practices".

And Walt Disney adds: "The rules, as modified, allow us to continue to provide high quality programming for children and families without undue restrictions on our ability to serve other viewers as well."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff