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Watchdog Groups Target D.C. Stations Over Kids Programming

Sep 1, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Alleging that Fox’s WDCA-TV and Paxson Communications’ WPXW-TV in Washington have failed to meet their children’s television obligations, watchdog groups today petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to deny license renewals for the stations.

Under the FCC’s children’s TV rules, stations are supposed to provide at least three hours a week of educational programming for kids. But in their petition, the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ and the Center for Digital Democracy said some of the programming the stations have used to meet their quotas falls short of the FCC’s mark.

“The FCC needs to send an unequivocal message that it will deny a TV station’s license renewal if that station has failed their child audience,” said Gloria Tristani, a former FCC commissioner who is now managing director of United Church of Christ’s office of communication.

In their petition, the groups specifically allege that “Miracle Pets” on WPXW and “Ace Lightning” and “Stargate Infinity” on WDCA failed to meet the FCC’s educational programming criteria. According to the petition, “Ace Lightning” and “Stargate Infinity” not only fall short of the agency’s standards but are antisocial. “A program that includes one violent attack after another cannot seriously be said to teach children to ‘get along with others’ as WDCA claims,” said Dale Kunkel, a University of Arizona professor who helped review the suspect programming for the watchdogs.

The petition charges that “Miracle Pets” falls short of the FCC’s requirements in part because it allegedly was not specifically designed to educate children.

Ms. Tristani said the group’s petition represents the first time station licenses have been challenged under the children’s TV rules since the agency adopted the regulations in 1996.

A Pax spokeswoman said, “WPXW fully complies with all FCC requirements.” A spokeswoman for Fox Television Stations had no comment.