Depending on the day of the week, a television station can air no more than either 10.5 or 12 minutes of children’s commercial content in a children’s show. But if a character on the show shows up for a fraction of a second, congratulations! Per FCC rules, the entire show becomes a fine-carrying 30-minute commercial.
The infractions are coming up during the license renewal process. So far we’ve seen seven stations owned by three owners caught in the dragnet. All are NBC affiliates.
All of them had an internet violation. A children’s website URL was broadcast very briefly, and the website: lazytown.com – is commercial in nature. That’s a no-no and carries a possible fine.
Three of the stations, owned by Quincy Newspapers, also suffered the fleeting appearance of a character in a Post Cereal Cocoa Pebbles commercial during a broadcast of “Xiaolin Showdown,” an act known as host-selling which is believed to take unfair advantage of childrens’ trust in the character and also punishable by a fine.
The stations noted that systems are in place to catch such things, but these were examples of items slipping through the cracks.
The FCC noted that it did not condone the infractions, but noted that there was no consistent pattern of violation and let all of the stations off with an admonition.
WREX Rockford IL, Quincy Newspapers
WGEM-TV Quincy IL, Quincy Newspapers
KTTC-TV Rochester MN, Quincy Newspapers
WXII-TV Winston-Salem NC (Greensboro) Hearst
WYFF-TV Greenville SC Hearst
KETK-TV Jacksonville TX (Tyler-Longview), Comcorp (pending to Nexstar)
KTSM-TV El Paso TX Comcorp (pending to Nexstar)
RBR-TVBR observation: In these cases, the FCC demonstrates can be very reasonable when it comes to dishing out punishment. At the same time, the stations are on record as having a violation, even if it didn’t cost them any money, and will not likely get off to easy if there is a repeat violation.