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FCC Hits Stations With Proposed Kids TV Fines

The FCC has proposed one of its largest collections of fines for TV stations violating children's television advertising limits and reporting requirements.

On Monday, the FCC  proposed fining six stations a total of $65,000, and admonishing a seventh station for violating public filing and commercial limit rules.

The decisions were issued just two days before the FCC commissioners are scheduled to appear before the House Telecommunications Subcommittee for an oversight hearing.

The biggest fine was for $17,500, levied against KGWB-TV Burlington, Iowa. The station violated the FCC's  limits on commercials in kids TV shows by showing an image of a Quack Pack character in a Quack Pack show, and for failing to maintain adequate public records of its kids programming.

The FCC limits commercials in kids shows to 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour on weekdays. It also requires stations to keep a public file on kids TV programming and publish its existence.

The two second biggest fines--$14,000 apiece--were proposed against KAZH(TV)
Baytown, Tex., and Woods Communications' KWBZ-TV Wolfforth, Tex. for failing
to publish the existence or location of their children's TV programming files for eight and six years, respectively.

Next came Tribune's KDAF Dallas, which was fined $8,000 for violating kids TV ad limits. That came when an ad for a Sabrina DVD aired during the Sabrina the Teenage Witch program. As with the Quack Pack citation above, the FCC considers such host-selling to render the entire show a program-
length commercial.

Also cited was the now-familiar program-length commercial involving the

Nintendo Game Boy E-reader ad in the Pokemon series

, for which the FCC has cited numerous stations.

Also getting an $8,000 hit was HIC Broadcastings KFWD fort Worth, Tex., for several instances of not placing all the relevant documents in its public file.

Hit with a $3,500 fine was Multimedia's KNAZ-TV Flagstaff, Ariz., for failing to publicize its reports.

Getting off with only an admonition, which is essentially an official reprimand that goes in your file, was Hearst-Argyle's KQCA Stockton, Calif., even though it had two violations of the ad limits. That was because one was for only 30 seconds and the FCC concluded it was an isolated incident. The other was yet another appearance of the E-reader/Pokemon connection. But the station argued that this differed from previous incidents because no Pokemon character was ever shown and only the "mon" in Pokemon was visible during the ad.

All the violations were volunteered by the stations as part of their filings for license renewal.