The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday fined Paramount Communications’ KTXH-TV Houston $ 80,000 for violating a law limiting the number of commercials a TV station may air during children’s programming hours.
The fine represents the largest punishment ever handed out to a TV station since Congress passed a 1990 law requiring broadcasters to meet the educational needs of children.
A key component of the kidvid law limits commercials to 10 1/2 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes on weekdays during children’s TV viewing hours.
The FCC cited KTXH for 132 violations of the commercial time limits since Jan. 1, 1992, 73 of which involved a “program-length commercial” in which the station aired a show that included ads for toys based on the main character in the program.
Blur of blurbs
Program-length blurbs were expressly prohibited by Congress in the kidvid law , since it’s believed children are incapable of distinguishing between commercials and programs.
The FCC, in a statement, cited as “particularly egregious” KTXH’s program-length commercials for shows such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “G.I. Joe.”
The violations were first discovered by station management, according to the FCC, which said there is no evidence of “deliberate disregard” of FCC rules. Rather, the agency blamed the violations on KTXH management’s “failure to communicate effectively to station staff the need for strict compliance … and its failure to monitor and review adequately the station’s performance in this area.”
New FCC chairman Reed Hundt did not participate in the decision. Commissioner James Quello, though supporting the action against KTXH, said he is “not entirely comfortable” with the large size of the fine.