The FCC has proposed $24,000 in fines for four stations that violated its children's TV reporting rules, including $10,000 for one station that conceded it had never publicized the existence or location of its children's TV programing reports.
The FCC requires stations to keep public files on their efforts to program educational shows and the amount of commercial time in those shows.
WMDT(TV) Salisbury, Md., said its omission was due to "misunderstanding" the FCC's kids TV rules, and had taken remedial action starting in May 2004. The FCC nonetheless said it constituted a willfull and repeated violation--inadvertence or ignorance is not a defense--and proposed the $10,000 fine. The station has 30 days to pay up or appeal the fine.
Three other stations--WCCU(TV) Urbana, Ill.; WECT(TV) Wilmington, N.C.; and WBBJ-TV Jackson, Tenn.; were socked with proposed $4,000 fines apiece for omission of some records of compliance with ad limits (WBBJ), compliance with ad limits and issues/program lists (WCCU), and issues/program lists (WECT).
The FCC has been cracking down on paperwork omissions and more substantive violations of the kids TV rules. As with other recent findings, most of them either admonitions--official reprimands--or findings of no harm, the stations volunteered the information in license renewal applications.
The difference between admonition and fine is usually one of degree, says, not publicizing any of the paperwork versus not publicizing some, or violating ad limits by a couple of 15 second spots versus numerous longer overages.
If the fines are paid, the violations are not expected to hold up those license renewals if past renewals are a gauge.