NBC/Telemundo has agreed to pay a $495,000 fine after an FCC investigation found that several of its television stations violated guidelines of the Children’s Television Act of 1990, pre-empting children’s programming for sports.
The issues raised in the investigation stemmed from the FCC Media Bureau’s review of the license renewal applications for the stations during the 2012-2015 license renewal cycle, as well as the 2004-2007 license renewal cycle.
According to the FCC, “in a number of the pending License Renewal Applications, NBC/Telemundo disclosed that it failed to air sufficient amounts of Core Programming as required” and “also disclosed that, in a few instances, it failed to timely file Children’s Television Programming Reports.”
The investigation found some issues dating as far back as 1996.
Pre-empting is allowed, but according to the guidelines, the stations must reschedule programming “serving the educational and informational needs of children ages 16 and under” between 7 am and 10 pm to comply with the mandatory three hours a week.
The Consent Decree resolved issues for 23 television stations involving preemptions due to sports programming – such as the Summer and Winter Olympics – that were not rescheduled, quarterly reports that were filed after the due date, and various mistakes the stations made in preparing their children’s programming reports, including typographical and math errors.
“The licensees of the NBC and Telemundo owned television stations and the FCC have entered into a Consent Decree to resolve children’s programming issues that occurred at some of the stations, mostly many years ago. NBC/Telemundo worked with the FCC to resolve all outstanding matters in a cooperative and constructive manner,” says a Telemundo spokesperson. “The NBC and Telemundo owned stations have a long and rich legacy of delivering high-quality programming to viewers of all ages, including our youngest audience members. The stations look forward to continuing to provide the educational and informational programming that our young viewers deserve and to fulfilling our public interest responsibilities in all respects.”
NBC Telemundo agreed to a three-year compliance plan in which it will:
- Designate a “Compliance Officer” with overall responsibility for ensuring compliance with the children’s programming rules.
- Conduct training for relevant station employees.
- Comply with certain existing legal requirements.