FCC Issues Fines/Admonitions in Children’s Programming Cases
On April 11, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission issued five decisions in which it fined or admonished stations for violating various regulations relating to the reporting of ad limits in children’s programming, publicizing the existence of the children’s programming reports in the stations’ public inspection file, and for including a commercial website listing in the end credits of a children’s program.
All licenses are required to maintain a public inspection file containing, among other things, a children’s television programming report for each calendar quarter which reflects the efforts the station made during the previous quarter to serve the educational and information needs of children. Stations must also make periodic, on-air announcements about the existence and location of the children’s reporting file. 47 C.F.R. Sec. 763.3526(e)(11)(iii).
The Commission fined the following three station groups for willful and repeated failure to publicize to the public the existence and location of those children’s reports. “Willful” means “the conscious and deliberate commission or omission of any act, irrespective of any intent to violate the regulations. “Repeated” means the commission or omission of an act more than once.
For violating these children’s reporting requirements, the FCC has set a base forfeiture amount of $8,000 which it can increase or decrease based on the following factors: the nature, circumstances, extent and gravity of the violation and the station’s degree of culpability, any history of prior offenses, ability to pay and other matters as justice requires 43 U.S.C. Sec. 503(b((2((E); 47 C.F.R. Sec. 180(b)(8).