Attention CW stations, the FCC has concluded that the Dec. 23, 2006, airing of kids show Xiaolin Showdown was a program-length commercial that could draw a fine.
That's because a network ad for Cocoa Pebbles--ironically a cereal based on a TV show--included a brief glimpse of Xiaolin characters in the navigation bar for the postopia.com Web site.
That was just one of several shows the FCC cited in proposing fining five TV staions a total of $39,000 for violating its kids TV rules.
Four of the five were cited for exceeding the kids ad limits--10.5 minutes per hour on weekends, 12 minutes on weekdays--with fines ranging from $3,000 to $12,000.
Hit with $12,000 fines were WVTV Milwaukee and KOCB Oklahoma City.
WVTV was cited for one 90-second overage and three program-length commercials. The FCC considers that if a character from a TV show also appears, even briefly, in an ad during that show, the entire program is treated as a commercial. In WVTV's case, the offenders were the now familiar Gameboy Advance ad during the Pokemon WB show which has drawn fines for a number of stations, plus a Cinamon Toast Crunch ad that featured a Sabrina DVD premium and aired during the Sabrina show, and the Cocoa Pebbles ad.
KOCB's offenses were also for a 90-second overage and three program-length commercials, all of which were related to a Pokemon character in ads placed in the Pokemon show.
the FCC wants to fine KATV Little Rock $8,000 for two instances in which ads for the theatrical release of the movie Doug aired furing the cartoon show Doug.
WTTG drew the smallest slap for ad limit violations, $3,000 for overages totaling seven minutes and 10 seconds.
Also hit with a fine ($4,000) was KQTV St. Joseph, Mo., for failing to publicize the existence of the children's TV programming information in their public files.
The FCC has been cracking down on kids TV rule violations. All the stations volunteered the information as part of their license renewal applications, said they had been the product of human error and that steps had been taken to correct the problems. WVTV also pointed out that the Cocoa Pebbles plug was a network ad over which it had no control.
But the FCC does not accept inadvertence as an excuse, though it is a mitigating factor in the size of the fine or whether it chooses simply to admonish the station. Past history and ability to pay also factor into the decision.