FCC Fines Two Stations Over Ads During Kids' Programs

The FCC has fined two TV stations
a total of
$14,400 for violating its limits on commercials in kids
though in one case the FCC has agreed to reduce the
According to a forfeiture
notice issued April 9, ABC affiliate
KATV(TV) Little Rock, Ark., is being asked to pony up $8,000 for airing
two ads
for the theatrical movie Doug during the Doug cartoon show. The
violation dates
from February 1999, but the commission did not issue its notice of
liability until May 2007. The station challenged that, saying the two
commercials were placed in the show inadvertently due to a last-minute
order by ABC. The station said it had implemented new procedures to
prevent a
repeat of the error.
Given that the overage was the only
such incident
in its eight-year license, term, the station had asked the notice to be
rescinded as "arbitrary and capricious," according to the FCC, pointing
to the
FCC's decision not to fine another station for commercial overages.
The FCC's Media Bureau was not
persuaded, saying
Friday that the station had "willfully and repeatedly" violated its
rules via
the two overages, and saying the $8,000 was in line with other, more
proposed fines for two, program-length commercials. If a commercial
featuring a
TV character airs in a show featuring that character, the FCC treats the
program as one long commercial. Commercial time in kids shows has to be
to 10.5 minutes on weekdays and 12 minutes on weekends.
It also said
it did
not agree that its decision not to fine another station compelled the
result in this case.
In the second forfeiture notice, the
wants KEB(TV) Tulsa, Okla., to pay $6,400 for two June 1999 broadcasts
of a
children's show--it did not name names--that featured an ad for a tape
of the
show and a toy resembling one of its characters. But in this case, the
FCC has
reduced the fine.
The station did not get its notice of
liability until March of 2007, and argued that the program and ad were
by a syndicator and that it had taken corrective action and informed the
Bureau itself about the apparent violations. The initial notice was for a
fine. In this case, the station did not ask that the fine be revoked or
the commission of being arbitrary and capricious. Instead, it asked that
fine be reduced by 20% in light of its 12-year history of no other
and the remedial action taken. The FCC agreed
and reduced the

John Eggerton

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.