FCC Proposes $41,000 In Station Fines


The FCC Monday proposed fining five TV stations a collective $41,000 for violating ad limits in kids TV shows and public filing omissions.

It is a clear signal to stations that the FCC expects them to do a better job of accounting for their programming for children and others. 

These five stations are the latest in a long series of fines and warnings for kids programming violations as well as other reporting violations the FCC appears to be starting to crack down on.

The biggest proposed fine was $15,000  levied against Acme Television's WBUI in  Decatur, Ill. for "willful and repeated" violations of the limit on the number of commercial minutes in kids programming. The current limit is 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends, 12 minutes on weekdays.

The station was cited for the following: four overages of 90 seconds, one overage of  two minutes and four violations for airing program-length commercials. For example, if an advertisement during kids programming contains a character from the show in which it is placed-- sometimes even a fleeting glimpse-- the FCC treats the whole show as one long commercial. Acme attributed most of  the overages to human error and mechanical error.  It also aired the now-familiar Gameboy E-Reader ad during the WB Network's Pokemon.  The ad featured a glimpse of the Pokemon character, which the FCC has cited in other station fines and warnings.

ACME's WBUW TV in Janesvillle, Wis., was fined $8,000 for the E-Reader miscue and 21 ad violations of between 15 and 90 seconds.

WSB-TV Atlanta was hit with a similar $8,000 fine for 20 violations of the FCC's limits on commercials in kids TV shows.  WSB argued human error, but the FCC has said that does not excuse such overages. The FCC also pointed out to the "number and magnitude" of the overages, which were the equivalent of 13, 30-second spots.

The FCC also wants to fine KALO TV Honolulu $6,000 for failing to put its complete ownership report in its public file, and $4,000 to KMTF Helena, Mont., for failing to file all the requisite information about its kids TV advertising and educational/informational programming.