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WAOW-WYOW Television, Inc.

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Released: January 9, 2014
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
January 9, 2014

DA 14-21
Released: January 9, 2014

WAOW-WYOW Television, Inc.
P.O. Box 909
Quincy, IL 62306
Re:
WAOW(TV)
Wausau, Wisconsin
Facility ID No. 64546
FRN: 0005012133
Dear Licensee:
This letter refers to your license renewal application for WAOW(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 August 1, 2013, you filed the above-referenced license renewal application for the
Station. In response to Section IV, Question 5 of that application, you attached an exhibit which
included an email memorandum from the CW Network to affiliates which reported that, on
December 23, 2006, the Station aired a commercial (for Post Cereal’s Cocoa Pebbles) during the
“Xiaolin Showdown” program that contained glimpses of characters from the program on the
screen. The appearance is described as “small, fleeting, and confined to a small area of the
picture.” The memorandum stated that the CW Network’s technology used to review children’s


1 File No. BRCDT-20130801ABN.
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).

commercials prior to air proved inadequate. The memorandum describes this commercial as “an
apparent violation of the FCC’s children’s advertising rules.”4
From the memorandum provided by the network describing the commercial, it appears
that this incident is an example of “host-selling,” which 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.
You argue that the images did not appear during the commercial portion of the spot but
during a portion of the material promoting a contest, relying on WDBD License Corp. as support
for the proposition that this did not represent a violation of the commercial limits requirements.8
We disagree, and agree with the network’s memorandum and other CW Network affiliates that
this commercial violated the commercial limits requirements.9 We do not believe that there is a
clear distinction between the commercial and promotional portions of the spot. Moreover, unlike
in WDBD License Corp., the images of characters here did not merely identify the product prize in
a free contest.
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.10 Furthermore, while corrective actions may have been taken to prevent future
violations, this does not relieve the Licensee of the violations which have 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 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


4 File No. BRCDT-20130801ABN, Exhibit 22.
5 WVTV Licensee, Inc., Forfeiture Order, 25 FCC Rcd 3741, 3743 (2010).
6 WHYY, Inc., Letter, 7 FCC Rcd 7123 (1992).
7 Id.
8 Licensee Exhibit 22 (citing WDBD License Corp., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 15 FCC
Rcd. 1151 (2000) at 6.
9 See Atlanta Television Station WUPA, Inc., Letter, 28 FCC Rcd 7233 (Vid. Div. 2013).
10 See, e.g., WTXX, Inc., Letter, 22 FCC Rcd 11968 (2007); Max Television of Syracuse, L.P., 10 FCC 8905
(1995).
11 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.”).
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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
cc:
Stephen Hartzell
Brooks, Pierce, et al.
P.O. Box 1800
Raleigh, North Carolina 27602
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