FCC Fines Nickolodeon

And now, some FCC news that doesn’t involve Janet Jackson or an exposed breast in any way whatsoever.

The Federal Communications Commission has fined Nickelodeon $1 million and ABC Family $500,000 for violating regulations regarding advertising during children’s programming. The fines came about after of routine FCC audits of cable systems uncovered the violations.

“The consent decrees … will not only help protect children who watch these cable channels, but will have a much broader impact,” FCC chairman Michael Powell says in a statement. “All cable operators, [satellite TV] providers, commercial television broadcasters and companies that provide children’s programming should know that we will vigorously enforce our children’s advertising limits.”

Nickelodeon agreed to pay a $1 million fine after acknowledging it exceeded the limits on advertising in kids’ shows 591 times over a 10-month period — the equivalent of 1,021 30-second ads. The federal Children’s Television Act, passed in 1990, states that children’s programming can contain only 12 minutes of ad time per hour on weekdays and 10 1/2 minutes per hour on weekends. (By contrast, most prime-time programming has about 16 minutes of commercials per hour.)

As part of its settlement, Nickelodeon, which is owned by media giant Viacom, will remove 1,021 30-second spots from its kids’ programming over the next 10 months.

Federal law also prohibits networks from airing ads for products “associated with” a kid’s show during that show — meaning, for example, that a “Power Rangers” episode on ABC Family can’t contain ads for Power Rangers toys. The audit of Disney-owned ABC Family showed the network had violated that rule in 31 half-hour episodes over a year ending in July.

Both networks express regret at the violations, blaming errors in their systems for logging commercial placement for the problems.

The FCC fines follow indecency penalties of $550,000 against CBS (also owned by Viacom) for its Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident and $1.18 million against FOX (owned by News Corp.) for airing various pixilated stripper body parts during an episode of the 2003 reality show “Married by America.”

Credit: Zap2It