Midwest TV Station Fined By FCC For Pokemon 'Program-Length Commercials

One recent Midwest TV station committed a kids' programming/commercial federal violation--which in another time and place would be considered great 'product integration' or 'branded entertainment" by some analysts.

The Federal Communications Commission Friday proposed a fine of $16,500 on WCIU-TV Chicago for what amounted to six program-length commercials featuring the Pokemon character targeted at kids.

It concerned two commercials that ran inside the half-hour "Pokemon" kids' series--one from Kellogg's Eggo waffles and another from General Mills' Fruit by the Foot fruit-flavored snacks.

In the Eggo spot, the image of a Pokemon character was embossed on several Eggo waffles, while all the while the announcer said: "And look out for limited-edition Pokemon Eggo waffles."

The Pokemon character also appeared in a 'Fruit by the Foot' commercial on two occasions.

The stations did not disagree that the events happened, but they said the appearances were 'fleeting"--and by that account, didn't turn the shows into full-length commercials for Pokemon. The FCC disagreed.



The FCC rules were enacted to protect young children who might not be able to distinguish between program content and commercial content. For example, commercials for Pokemon-related products can still run on a TV station--just not in the program for "Pokemon".

Increasingly, many adult-themed prime-time shows--reality shows and scripted shows--have been experimenting with program content running in traditional TV commercials that in turn are aired during the program.

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