There are limits to how much commercial time can be inserted into television programming aimed at children, and a pair of co-owned television stations in Puerto Rico overshot them by less than a minute – an infraction they’ll pay for.
The stations both belong to radio/television operator Max Media, and include WMEI Arecibo and WOST Mayaguez.
The rules limit the commercial load on children’s programming to 12 minutes on weekdays and 10.5 minutes on weekends.
During the Q4 2007 and Q1 2008, on 15 separate occasions, the limits were exceeded by 45 seconds. Each FCC complaints against each station were identical.
The licensee explained that a new automated traffic system had just been installed at the time, and it was believed the spotloads on the stations were correct. When the error was discovered, the system was reprogrammed to get back into compliance.
The base fine for the infraction is $8K. The FCC took into account the brief duration of the overage, the relatively few incidents over the term of the license and the licensees unprompted efforts to fix the mistake quickly, and cut the fine in half. Both stations were hit with fines of $4K as a result.
RBR-TVBR observation: This is the light version of the children’s programming infraction category. If a character in the actual program shows up in a commercial, even for a fraction of a second, the FCC considers the program to be a full-length commercial, as in a 30-minute program is a 30-minute commercial. The penalty there is likely to carry a much stiffer fine.