'Kid' Problems: Not Just For Low-Rated Reality Shows

And you thought it was just a potential "Kid Nation" problem?

Seems like the biggest show in the land of TV has a similar problem -- all for hiring under-18-year-olds.

The producers of "American Idol" were fined $5,000 for failing to get proper permits under the New York State Child Performer Labor Law, because "Idol" 2007 winner Jordin Sparks and Sanjaya Malakar - both under 18 --  were part of a tour on the road this summer across the U.S. In late August and September it made a few stops in New York.

Perhaps "American Idol" producers' 19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia will now call that singing contest a "camp" as well -- as a precaution. That's what the producers of "Kid Nation" have been calling their reality effort, in an effort to get around some labor issues in New Mexico.

Does that affect the bigger picture? Were "Idol" TV viewers -- or national TV advertisers -- misled? Should they get back make-goods on the show for those expensive $600,000 or $700,000 commercials?



Probably not. But the affair does bring up some issues.

Many in the TV business press used a lot of ink discussing the fact that "Kid Nation" may have avoided paying under-age performers.

That concern seemed to find its way to advertisers, who, some suggest, stayed away from "Nation" because of the possible production scandal. But that really wasn't the case. Not every CBS advertiser buys every single CBS show -- this includes "CSI" or "How I Met Your Mother" or "Two and a Half Men."

For new shows, it's typical for advertisers to take a wait-and-see attitude. TV production problems? That's not an advertiser concern - that is, unless a marketer was backing a show that was perhaps openly breaking the law.  Like it or not, the producers of "Kid Nation" are, at present, calling it a "camp" --not work -- for children.

If these kids' salary issues become a bigger concern, then you would have to apply them across to the board to other reality shows where kids have made TV appearances: "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," "Supernanny," "Nanny 911" among others. I'm sure the unions are already looking into this.

New York labor laws require child performers to register with the state so they can be monitored on whether they're complying with child labor, education and workers' compensation regulations. The law also mandates that at least 15% of what children earn go into a trust fund held for them until they turn 18.

Well, we think "American Idol," the billionaire TV franchise, should be able to cover the $5,000.  Hopefully, Sparks and Malakar are singing for more than their supper, and haven't spent all of their cash on vocal coaches, makeup artists or pre-college textbooks.

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