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FCC Fines KHCW For Pokemon Ad

Add another $12,000 to Pokemon's tab.

That is how much the FCC has proposed fining KHCW(TV) Houston, Tex., for violating the FCC's limits on commercials in kids TV shows, including a program-length commercial triggered by an ad in the Pokemon show.

The FCC has fined numerous stations for an ad for the GameBoy E-Reader on the defunct WB Network that aired during the show and featured a fleeting glimpse of a Pokemon character. The FCC has said that any reference to a character in a show in an ad within that show turns the entire show into an ad (got that?).

The station also admitted to airing two other program-length commercials and exceeding the ad limits--10.5 minutes per hour on weekend, 12.5 on weekdays--by 90 seconds. The benchmark fine for the commercial violations is $8,000, but the FCC bumped it up, citing the number of violations.

The FCC took no action against Fox's KTTV(TV) Los Angeles for admitted ad limit violations. Although the station said it had exceeded the limits eight times, that was for a six-year period and amounted to under two minutes total. The FCC said that was minimal and took no action.

The commission also admonished--an official black mark--but did not fine Paxson's WPXJ-TV West Palm Beach, Fla., for failing to report the age ranges of its kids shows to electronic program guide publishers.

All the stations volunteered the violations when filing for license renewals.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.