Mercury buzzed by FCC for $16K


KMTW-TV in Hutchinson KS made an error. For about a month and a half from the very end of May to the middle of July in 2002 it was running “Buzz Lightyear” as part of its children’s programming schedule. Unfortunately, the Mercury Broadcasting Company station also ran advertisement featuring the Buzz Lightyear character. The legal limit for advertising during children’s programming is 10.5 minute per hour on weekends and 12 minute per hour on weekdays. But if a character is in the program and in an ad, the program is treated as a feature-length ad, making an instant mockery of the statutory limits. This happened six times, which the FCC said warranted a forfeiture of $16K.

RBR/TVBR observation: The FCC is very serious about enforcing the children’s advertising limits. In this particular type of infraction, sometimes the problem comes straight from a network which sends the offending ad along with the programming itself. That doesn’t seem to be the case this time, but even if it were, FCC would still go after the local licensee, just as it does if a network lets indecent programming get out to its affiliates.