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Pokemon Strikes Again

The FCC has proposed fining two stations a total $30,000 for violating its limits on ads in kids TV shows. 

Hit with the biggest fine was Winston Broadcasting's WBNX-TV Akron, Ohio: $20,000 for a mix of ad overages, host-selling and program-length commercials.

Rearing its ugly head yet again were the now-infamous Pokemon cards, which were shown fleetingly in a Nintendo ad during the Pokemon cartoon show—back when there was such a show and a WB Network to air it. The ad has come back to haunt numerous shows at the FCC.

The commission considers any appearance of a character in an ad during a show featuring that character as host selling—essentially turning the entire show into a de facto ad since young viewers have a hard time distinguishing between ad and program content.

WPXI Pittsburgh was hit with a $10,000 fine for 17 ad overages totaling 20 minutes. The FCC's rules limit ads in kids programs to 10.5 minutes on weekends and 12 minutes on weekdays.  

Both stations volunteered the information about the violations as part of their applications 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.