FCC Fines Two Stations Over Ads During Kids' Programs
Forfeiture notice cites KATV Little Rock, Ark., KEB Tulsa, Okla., for violating limits on commercials aired during kids' shows
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/9/2010 7:00:23 PM
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 apparent liability until May 2007. The station challenged that, saying the two commercials were placed in the show inadvertently due to a last-minute insertion 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that the overage was the only such incident in its eight-year license, term, the station had asked the notice to be rescinded as "arbitrary and capricious," according to the FCC, pointing to the FCC's decision not to fine another station for commercial overages.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 recent, 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 entire program as one long commercial. Commercial time in kids shows has to be limited 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 same result in this case.
In the second forfeiture notice, the commission 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 apparent liability until March of 2007, and argued that the program and ad were provided by a syndicator and that it had taken corrective action and informed the Media Bureau itself about the apparent violations. The initial notice was for a $8,000 fine. In this case, the station did not ask that the fine be revoked or accuse the commission of being arbitrary and capricious. Instead, it asked that the fine be reduced by 20% in light of its 12-year history of no other violations and the remedial action taken. The FCC agreed and reduced the fine.
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