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Pokemon Strikes Again: FCC Fines Station

The Federal Communications Commission slapped a $12,000 proposed fine on KWSB-TV San Diego for violating its children's-TV ad limits.

The station volunteered in filing its license-renewal application in August 2006 that it inadvertently aired three program-length commercials, including the dreaded GameBoy E-Reader ad, and exceeded the limits by 90 seconds on another occasion.

The FCC has been cracking down on program-length commercials, fining stations for a fleeting glimpse of a Pokemon character in an ad that aired on the Pokemon show on the now-defunct WB. The commission said any appearance of a character from a cartoon show in an ad placed within that show turns the entire show into a commercial.

The station, as have others before, argued that an FCC ruling on fleeting profanity was a defense against the Pokemon appearance, but the FCC has said before that its decision that a profanity on a sign in the background of a Big Brother episode was not actionable is not on point.

The commission also admonished -- an official black mark in its file -- but did not fine two other stations for kids’-TV reporting violations. WSPX-TV Syracuse, N.Y., and WZMY-TV Derry, N.H., failed to inform electronic-program-guide publishers of the age ranges its kids’ shows targeted, which is one of the FCC's children's-TV-reporting requirements.