Again, it’s all “For the Children”–FCC Fines Stations for Kids’ Commercials

by on October 22, 2004

The FCC has just fined Nickelodeon and ABC Family for the heinous crime of showing too many commercials during kids’ programming.

Apparently FCC regulations say that children’s programming may contain no more than 10 1/2 minutes of advertising per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour on weekdays. And apparently Nickelodeon and ABC Family exceeded those limits quite a few times. In promulgating the new fines, the FCC gave them a tongue-lashing and warned all media outlets that the agency, “will continue to take swift and appropriate enforcement action to protect the interests of children.”

Many out there will see nothing troubling about the FCC’s actions in this case. Again, if it’s done “for the children,” then hey, no worries.

But I find this sort of regulation incredibly insulting. It’s none of the government’s business what my children watch. That’s my business. I’ll tell my kids exactly what they can and cannot watch. And if my wife and I feel there are too many ads being shown during the programs we let them watch then we can use the remote control to turn the channel of turn the TV off entirely.


I know I beat this drum a lot, but with good reason. We don’t want to call Uncle Sam in to play the role of surrogate parent in our homes because it raised fundamental threats to our First Amendment rights. And, yes, I believe that even commercial advertisers have speech rights that can be violated by government regulations. But, at the end of the day, this is just another area where I feel the government has no business censoring speech in the name of “protecting children.” In a free society, that’s a job for parents and private institutions.

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