FCC Steps Up Enforcement of “Kids TV Ad” Rules

As you know, TV renewals for stations in New York will begin next year. A recent decision by the FCC’s Media Bureau serves as an important reminder that its “Kids TV Ad” rules will be enforced. The FCC’s Media Bureau issued a Notice of Apparent Liability proposing to fine over 100 television stations for exceeding the limits on commercialization in programming directed to children of ages 12 or under.

The 1990 Children’s Television Act limits the amount of commercial matter that may be aired during children’s programming to 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour on weekdays. Another key element of the law is that stations may not air a program-length commercial. In other words, any advertising aired during a children’s program must be distinct from the program itself.

In the case cited above, a commercial for “Hot Wheels Super Ultimate Garage” was inadvertently aired on eleven occasions during eight 30-minute-long episodes of “Team Hot Wheels.” As a result, the FCC viewed the situation as a program-length commercial, which violated the Kids TV rules. Proposed fines will range from $20,000 for an individual station to over $2.6 million for the corporate parent that ran the commercial on 83 stations.

It is important for stations to examine their Children’s Television records to see if they have had any violations of the “Kids TV Ad” regulations during this past license term. Importantly, if there is a violation you cannot state on your renewal application that you have been in full compliance with the FCC’s regulations. You need to consult your communications council.

Going forward, it is worth looking at your kid’s programming carefully. The FCC is watching.

You can see a copy of the Media Bureaus’ decision here.