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FCC Fines Four Stations

The Federal Communications Commission hit four stations with a total of $64,500 in proposed fines for violating its limits on ads in kids’ shows, as well as for incomplete public records in two of the cases.

The biggest proposed fines were $20,000 apiece for two low-power stations owned by Sage Broadcasting, KIDZ-LP Abilene and KIDT-LP Stamford, both Texas, for five violations apiece of the limits on ads in kids’ shows -- 10.5 minutes on weekdays, 12 minutes on weekends -- as well as not putting all of the paperwork in its public files.

The other fines were for $16,500 against WLFL TV Raleigh, N.C., and WATE Knoxville, Tenn., both for a collection of kids’ ad overages including between them program-length commercials, host-selling and additional 15-second, 30-second and 60-second spots.

The fines remain only proposed fines until the stations have the opportunity to appeal the decision.

The stations explained that the overages were the result of human error -- theirs and others -- but the FCC does not accept inadvertence as a defense.

All of the violations were volunteered by the stations as part of their license-renewal applications, some of them filed years ago.

For example, one of WLFL’s 11 overages was the familiar 2002 airing of a commercial in the Pokemon show for a Gameboy in which Pokemon cards appeared for slightly more than one second. The FCC considers that "host selling," which converts the entire TV show into an ad.