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FCC Urged To Ban Cartoons With Toy-Makers’ Products As Central Characters

October 5, 1987 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A group that monitors children’s television asked the Federal Communications Commission on Monday to ban children’s cartoons that feature toy-manufacturers’ products as central characters.

In a petition to the FCC, the Cambridge, Mass.-based Action for Children’s Television said such shows are program-length commercials that violate an FCC policy requiring a separation between programming and commercial messages.

″Children are our nation’s future - the most precious resource this country has. In recognition of this fact, broadcast licensees are to put profits second and the children first. Yet, the trend in children’s programming is now precisely the opposite,″ the group’s petition said.

The petition follows a federal appeals court decision last week that ruled programs based on toy-manufacturers’ products are commercial matter and require sponsorship identification.

In that case, the Los Angeles-based National Association for Better Broadcasting had filed a complaint against KCOP-TV, Los Angeles, for airing ″He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,″ based on a line of fantasy- action figures made by Mattel Inc., without identifying Mattel as a sponsor.

Action for Children’s Television in August filed a similar petition with the FCC, asking the agency to reimpose guidelines to limit commercial time during children’s programs. That petition followed another appeals court ruling that ordered the FCC to review its 1984 decision to abandon the guidelines.

″One critical difference between children and adults is the lack of ability by children to comprehend the distinction between advertising and programming matter,″ the group said in its latest petition. ″There must be a clear separation between the program content and the commercial message.″

The group estimates that at least 73 product-based children’s programs are being broadcast by TV stations across the country.

Legislation has been introduced in Congress to eliminate the programs by reimposing the commission’s commercial limits.