Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

FCC Issues NAL For Repeatedly Broadcasting Buzz Lightyear Commercial As "Children's Programming"

The FCC has fined Station KMTV in Hutchinson, Kansas, $16,000 for "apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Section 73.670 of the Rules, by failing to comply with the limits on commercial matter in children’s programming." The agency noted that "the Licensee indicated that between May 31, 2002, and July 10, 2002, the Station exceeded the children’s television commercial limits on six occasions when it aired a commercial featuring the character, “Buzz Lightyear” during the “Buzz Lightyear” program." 

...Station KMTW(TV)’s record of exceeding the Commission’s commercial limits on children’s television programming on six occasions, all program-length commercials, constitutes an apparent willful and repeated violation of Section 73.670.  Congress was particularly concerned about program-length commercials because young children often have difficulty distinguishing between commercials and programs.  S. Rep. No. 227, 101st Cong., 1st Sess. 24 (1989).  Given this congressional concern, the Commission made it clear that program-length commercials, by their very nature, are extremely serious violations of the children’s television commercial limits, stating that the program-length commercial policy “directly addresses a fundamental regulatory concern, that children who have difficulty enough distinguishing program content from unrelated commercial matter, not be all the more confused by a show that interweaves program content and commercial matter.”

...The number and magnitude of overages at issue here mean that children have been subjected to commercial matter greatly in excess of the limits contemplated by Congress when it enacted the Children’s Television Act of 1990.  The Licensee’s implementation of policies to prevent subsequent violations of the Commission’s children’s television rules and policies does not relieve the Licensee of liability for violations which have occurred.

Read the entire Notice here. Of related interest: fleeting images: Buzz Lightyear and Pokeman--the FCC's position is that such uses make the shows into ads for the product.

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