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CBS Operations, Inc.

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Released: February 4, 2014
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
February 4, 2014

DA 14-126
Released: February 4, 2014

CBS Operations, Inc.
1800 K Street, N.W.
Suite 920
Washington D.C. 20006
Attention: Raymond Benedict
Re:
WTOG(TV)
St. Petersburg, Florida
Facility ID No. 74112
FRN: 0003475902
Dear Licensee:
This letter refers to your license renewal application for WTOG(TV) (the “Station”)1 and hereby
admonishes the Station for its failure to comply with the limits on commercial matter in children’s
programming.
In the Children's Television Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-437, 104 Stat. 996-1000, codified at 47
U.S.C. Sections 303a, 303b and 394, Congress directed the Commission to adopt rules, inter alia, limiting
the number of minutes of commercial matter that television stations may air during children's
programming, and to consider in its review of television license renewals the extent to which the licensee
has complied with such commercial limits. Pursuant to this statutory mandate, the Commission adopted
Section 73.670 of the Rules, 47 C.F.R. § 73.670, which limits the amount of commercial matter which
may be aired during children's programming to 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per
hour on weekdays. The Commission also reaffirmed and clarified its long-standing policy against
“program-length commercials.” The Commission defined a “program-length commercial” as “a program
associated with a product, in which commercials for that product are aired,” and stated that the entire
duration of any program-length commercial would be counted as commercial matter for the purpose of
the children's television commercial limits.2 The commercial limitations became effective on January 1,
1992.3
On October 1, 2012, you filed the above-referenced license renewal application for the Station.
In response to Section IV, Question 5 of that application, you certified that, during the previous license
term, the Station failed to comply with the limitations on commercial matter in children’s programming
specified in Section 73.670 of the Commission's Rules. In Exhibit 22 to that application,4 you reported
that, on December 23, 2006, the Station aired a commercial (for Post Cereal) during the “Xiaolin
Showdown” program that “contained glimpses of characters from the program on a small portion of the


1 File No. BRCDT-20121001AUB.
2 Children’s Television Programming, Report and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 2111, 2218, recon. granted in part, 6 FCC Rcd
5093, 5098 (1991).
3 Children’s Television Programming, 6 FCC Rcd 5529, 5530 (1991).
4 File No. BRCDT-20121001AUB, Exhibit 22.

screen.” The appearance is described as being “small” and “fleeting.” The Licensee reported that the
CW Network subsequently notified all of its affiliates of the error.
Based on the Licensee's description of the commercial aired during “Xiaolon Showdown” is an
example of “host-selling,” Host-selling involves program-related characters promoting any product
during the program in question and is a practice that the Commission has denounced because it takes
unfair advantage of the trust that children place in such characters.5 In this regard, the Commission has
stated that “host-selling encompasses any character endorsement - not just direct vocal appeals - that has
the effect of confusing a child viewer from distinguishing between program and non-program material.”6
For example, the Commission has determined that “advertisements featuring the same type of animation
that is regularly featured in the accompanying program constitutes host-selling.”7
Based on the
information before us, we believe the commercial broadcast on December 23, 2006, violated the
Commission's host-selling policy.
The fact that the commercial was inserted into the program by the Station’s television network
does not relieve the Licensee of responsibility for the violation. In this regard, the Commission has
consistently held that a licensee's reliance on a program’s source or producer for compliance with our
children's television rules and policies will not excuse or mitigate violations which do occur.8
Furthermore, while corrective actions may have been taken to prevent future violations, this does not
relieve the Licensee of the violations which have occurred.9
Although we consider any violation of our rules limiting the amount of commercial matter in
children’s programming to be significant, the violations described in your renewal application appears to
have been an isolated occurrence. Although we do not rule out more severe sanctions for a violation of
this nature in the future, we have determined that an admonition is appropriate at this time. Therefore,
based upon the facts and circumstances before us, we

ADMONISH

you for this violation of the
children’s television commercial limits rule and policies described in the Station’s renewal application.
We remind you that the Commission expects all commercial television licensees to comply with the limits
on commercial matter in children’s programming.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, a copy of this Letter shall be sent by First Class and
Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested to the licensee at the address listed above.
Sincerely,
Barbara A. Kreisman

Chief, Video Division

Media Bureau


5 WVTV Licensee, Inc., Forfeiture Order, 25 FCC Rcd 3741, 3743 (2010)
6 WHYY, Inc., Letter, 7 FCC Rcd 7123 (1992).
7 Id.
8 See, e.g., WTXX, Inc., Letter, 22 FCC Rcd 11968 (2007); Max Television of Syracuse, L.P., 10 FCC 8905 (1995).
9 See International Broadcasting Corp., 19 FCC 2d 793, 794 (1969) (Permitting mitigation as an excuse based upon
corrective action following a violation would “tend to encourage remedial rather than preventive action.”).
2

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