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Ohio/Oklahoma Hearst Television, Inc.

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Released: August 12, 2014
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Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

August 12, 2014

DA 14-1174

Released: August 12, 2014

Ohio/Oklahoma Hearst Television Inc.

c/o Brooks, Pierce, et al.

P.O. Box 1800

Raleigh, North Carolina 27602

Re:

WLWT(TV)

Cincinnati, Ohio

Facility ID No. 46979

FRN: 0001587609

Dear Licensee:

This letter refers to your license renewal application for WLWT(TV), Cincinnati, Ohio (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 amount of commercial matter that commercial 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.2

These commercial limitations became effective on January 1, 1992.3

In furtherance of the CTA’s underlying purpose to protect children from excessive and

inappropriate commercial messages, the Commission adopted the website address rules.4

The website

address rules restrict the display of Internet web addresses during children’s programming directed at

1 File No. BRCDT-20130531ABJ (“WLWT Renewal”).

2 See Policies and Rules Concerning Children’s Television Programming, MM Docket Nos. 90-570 and 83-670,

Report and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 2111 (1991), recon. granted in part, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 6 FCC Rcd

5093 (1991).

3 See Policies and Rules Concerning Children’s Television Programming, MM Docket Nos. 90-570 and 83-670,

Order, 6 FCC Rcd 5529 (1991).

4 See Children’s Television Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters, MM Docket No 00-167, Report and

Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 19 FCC Rcd 22943, 22961-62, ¶¶ 50-52 (2004) (“2004 Report

and Order”), aff’d in part, amended in part, Second Order on Reconsideration and Second Report and Order, 21

FCC Rcd 11065, 11077-78, ¶¶ 29-32 (2006) (“2006 Order on Reconsideration”); see also 47 C.F.R. §73.670(b), (c),

and (d).

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children ages 12 and under.5

Specifically, Section 73.670(b) permits the display of Internet website

addresses during program material or promotional material not counted as commercial time only if: (1)

the website offers a substantial amount of bona fide program-related or other noncommercial content; (2)

the website is not primarily intended for commercial purposes, including either e-commerce or

advertising; (3) the website's home page and other menu pages are clearly labeled to distinguish the

noncommercial from the commercial sections; and (4) the page of the website to which viewers are

directed by the website address is not used for e-commerce, advertising, or other commercial purposes

(e.g., contains no links labeled “store” and no links to another page with commercial material).6

On January 30, 2014, you filed an amendment to the above-referenced license renewal

application for the Station. In response to Section IV, Question 5 of that application, you attached an

exhibit which admitted that on October 12, 2013, the Station aired the URL address for the website

www.lazytown.com,” (last visited Jul. 2, 2014) which appeared during the closing credits of the NBC

Network supplied children’s program “LazyTown.”7

The inclusion of the website address is described by

a NBC Network communication sent to the Station as being “inadvertently included” and “fleeting.”

NBC Network goes on to describe the precautions it takes to avoid such incidents and states that it is

working “to develop and implement additional procedures to minimize the possibility of a re-occurrence

of this isolated incident.” You argue that because the website address was displayed for an “exceedingly

short duration” and would not have been “discernible to a reasonable child viewer,” the display was not a

violation of the rules or was, at most, a de minimis violation. You request that, if the Commission finds

the display of the website address to be other than a de minimis violation of Section 73.760, the violation

should be treated in a similar manner to recent “host-selling” violations, which resulted in the sanction of

an admonishment.8

Even though the website address was displayed for only a short duration (estimated at less than

one-half of one second), the display of a website address during program material, for any period of time,

that does not comply with the four-prong test is a violation of Section 73.670(b). No evidence has been

provided demonstrating that the website complies with the four-prong test and upon examination of the

website we conclude that it does not comply. In particular, the website does not meet the fourth prong of

the test because the top of the homepage of the website contains content of a commercial nature in the

form of a link labeled “shop.” Furthermore, while you state that the website address was only displayed

during the closing credits, the Commission has specifically stated that closing credits are considered to be

part of the television programming material and are subject to the website address rule.9

We note that while the commercial matter may have been inserted into the program by the

Station’s television network, this does not relieve the Station of responsibility for the violations. In this

5 See 2004 Report and Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 22961, ¶ 50; 47 C.F.R. § 73.670, note 2.

6 See 47 C.F.R. § 73.670(b). In 2006, on reconsideration, the Commission retained the original text of Section

73.670(b) concluding that “the website address rule fairly balances the interest of broadcasters in exploring the

potential uses of the Internet with our mandate to protect children from over-commercialization.” The Commission

went on to clarify that “broadcasters are free to display the addresses of website that do not comply with the [four-

prong] test during allowable commercial time, as long as it is adequately separated from the program material.”

2006 Order on Reconsideration, 21 FCC Rcd at 11078, ¶ 32.

7 WLWT Renewal, Exhibit 22.

8 Id.at p. 2 (citing see, e.g., Winston Broadcasting Network, Inc., Admonishment Letter, 28 FCC Rcd 15627 (Vid.

Div. 2013) (admonishing television station in connection with the Xiaolin Showdown incident); WAOW-WYOW

Television, Inc., Admonishment Letter, 29 FCC Rcd 133 (Vid. Div. 2014) (same)).

9 2006 Order on Reconsideration, 21 FCC Rcd at 11080, ¶ 36.

2

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regard, the Commission has consistently held that 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.10

Although corrective actions may have been taken to prevent future violations, this does not

relieve the Station from liability for violations which have already occurred.11

Although we consider any violation of our rules limiting the amount of commercial matter in

children’s programming to be significant, the violation described in your license renewal application

appears to have been an isolated occurrence. While we do not rule out more severe sanctions for a similar

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 the violation of

Section 73.670(b) of the Commission’s website display rules. We remind you that the Commission

expects all commercial television licensees to comply with the limits on commercial matter, including the

display of website addresses, during 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

cc:

Mark J. Prak

Brooks, Pierce, et al.

P.O. Box 1800

Raleigh, North Carolina 27602

10 See, e.g., WTXX, Inc., Admonishment Letter, 22 FCC Rcd 11968 (Vid. Div. 2007); Max Television of Syracuse,

L.P., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 10 FCC Rcd 8905 (MMB 1995).

11 See International Broadcasting Corp., Memorandum Opinion and Order 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”).

3

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