FCC Asked To Block New Cartoon Series… For The Children

from the gi-joe? dept

Benny6Toes alerts us to the news that a children’s advocacy group is demanding that the FCC block a new cartoon show that uses a character from shoe company Skechers’ advertisements as a part of the series, claiming that it would be the equivalent of a 30-minute commercial, which is against the requirements of the Children’s Television Act. The group claims: “the show could pave the way for Ronald McDonald, Tony the Tiger and other iconic cartoon pitchmen to become stars of their own series.”

Indeed, but as Benny notes: “After all, what are cartoons for Transformers, G.I. Joe (does that show my age?), Pokemon, or dozens of other kids shows for if not to sell related merchandise?” Saturday morning cartoons have been filled with half-hour long “advertisements” for merchandise for years. More to the point, Benny points out that isn’t this really something for parents to decide, rather than the FCC:

But here’s a better question: even if it is a 30 minute advertisement, should the FCC (or any government agency) be able to stop a show for that reason? Soap operas, though not targeted at children, were sponsored in whole by specific companies when they originally debuted on radio. That’s why they’re called, “soap operas.”

Shouldn’t the parents be able to say, “no,” to their children?

Yes, people get annoyed at how commercial children’s programming has become, but is that really the FCC’s job to deal with it?

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Companies: fcc, skechers

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Comments on “FCC Asked To Block New Cartoon Series… For The Children”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Yes

You are the problem with American politics. When people start batting for their “team” rather than what is right, they can get fed any number of lies, as you have clearly demonstrated.

Hint: the Democratic party is not involved in any way here. It’s a private group asking an independent government body to do something. Democrats have nothing to do with anything, and it’s quite likely that the requested ban will not happen.

Partisan morons like yourself need to shut up and actually listen to facts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Yes

If you are going after intolerance and ignorance why are you not down on the Democratic Party’s 200 year totalitarian campain?

1808 to 1860 Pro Slavery
1860 to 1865 Confederate
1865 to 1945 KKK
1914 to 1950 Pro Communist
1950 to Present Anti democratic

The central them has always been a cultural elect controlling a less educated mob with a psychology of “I see it. I want it. Now the only problem is how do I steal it and make it sound like I am doing the people a favor by doing such”.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Yes

If you think that’s any worse or different to the Republican’s reign of fear and ignorance, there’s probably a bridge for sale somewhere for you…

Not least because of the southern strategy that mean that the first 4 links you presented actually refer to the modern Republican viewpoint rather than Democrats – look at how many people essentially switched parties because they were disgusted with the civil rights movement. The Democratic party before the 60s and afterwards are very different things.

Floyd (profile) says:

I’m all for 30 minute advertisement cartoons. Advertising is what makes content free (for me), as long as it’s entertaining, who cares? (spoiler: idiots) I’m so tired of the government dictating what I can or can’t watch/do/say/eat/consume. But everyone from bleeding-heart liberals to war-mongering republicans wants the government to get more involved in everything.
BTW, @designerfx, I’m a Christian and plenty tolerant as well.

Cathy (user link) says:

FCC rules

IIRC the FCC has long had rules about advertising in children’s shows (before these rules the commercials used to be really egregious, “Kids! Ask your parents to buy you…” onslaughts). The question here appears to be whether the program itself runs afoul of these rules. Don’t know the answer, or what the answer SHOULD be, but it doesn’t seem that ridiculous a question.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Are there still any saturday morning cartoons left?”

There’re some, depending on which station you have on.

CBS: Perhaps a few, nothing memorable. Usually done by 10am for some infomercial.

NBC: Really, REALLY weird ones, with odd computer graphics that look like something from a GameCube system and lots of meaningless dragons and stuff

ABC: Nope. Too busy turning kids into dumbed down whores with Hannah Montanna and That’s So Raven

WGN: The Japanamation station. Hell, even their Batman cartoon is done in Eastern style.

Fox: Hell no! This is the conservative safe haven. No horrible mindless cartoons from Fox that would hurt the children. Just good, wholesome infomercials, half of which are for workout/exercize equipment modeled by scantily clad bimbos

ESPN: Sportscenter, non-fucking-stop. THIS is cartoons for adults….

NickN says:

And how on earth does anyone think children’s programing is paid for?

Without a TV license model like the UK, the only way kids shows are paid for is by the toy/publishing companies. They pay for the show production and often pay for additional ads the run on the same network. Surprise surprise, they like to make their money back. If they don’t make money, you don’t get your cartoons. It’s that simple.

TV is expensive to make. If you want to watch it, someone needs to pay for it (and no, that’s not what your cable bill is for, very little of your monthly cable fee goes back to the actual networks and what does is split across all shows on any given network, not just your favorite show). In kids TV there has been a long standing fuzzy line between out and out advertising and actual shows. All of the iterations of Transformers (Beast Wars, Beast Machines etc) are a great example. At the end of the day it is designed to help sell toys, but it is also story-based entertainment.

I think it is hard to argue that an animated character from a sketchers ad has a broader entertainment purpose. Conversely, I think is is very easy to argue that a Spongebob, Dora or GI Joe character has some kind of value beyond advertising (as well as a meaningful backstory etc).

Ronald McDonald, is a much fuzzier example. He’s been part of McDonalds for a long time and has been built as a character as well as an advertising vehicle.

But compare that to a (I swear this is real) kids TV show concept that was doing the rounds a few years back featuring all your favorite household brands as characters i.e. Jolly Green Giant, Mr. Clean etc. And not in a cool Cartoon Network/Adult Swim parody kind of way… Clearly a pure ad with no real entertainment value.

Like everything, it’s not simple black and white. But mostly, the toy companies and the FCC do an okay(ish) job of striking a balance…

As far as non-merchandized kids shows go (like Oobi), they are often sold to a network as part of a package, so they are paid for by Dora or other heavily merchandized shows that they are bundled with during distribution…

And yes, I’m a former production executive, so this is based on actual experience, not hearsay…

scote (profile) says:

“Yes, people get annoyed at how commercial children’s programming has become, but is that really the FCC’s job to deal with it? “

Yes. Kids are not just little adults. Young children literally can’t tell the difference between advertising and programing, not even when the ads are separate. Making a show that is an ad only compounds the problem, and the totally in appropriate manipulation. It is entirely reasonable to have extra laws to limit the manipulation of children by commercial interests.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So…you would like every single show to be banned? After all, the vast majority of shows now use product placement, or are selling their own merchandise related to the show, or are hyping other content.

Quickly now, go back to sheltering your children from all the horrors of reality. I’m sure that will turn out well.

Floyd (profile) says:


You are the kind of lame ass jerk that makes the world a (mostly) bad place. I have three kids, and guess what, my kids (even as toddlers) understand entertainment, advertising, and the fact that I as a parent am not going to buy them everything that they see. Kids aren’t as stupid as people like you seem to think, and if you bother to take the time to explain things to them (like money/cost, gifts and their context, and the meaning of the word ‘no’).

Here’s the kicker: if something is confusing for my children, or I don’t want them to watch it, I simply don’t allow them to watch it! Incredible, I know.

If you don’t like the way the world is, please stop trying to force your world-view on everybody else, and go live in a cave somewhere, where nobody can bother you. I don’t use the government to force programs I don’t like off the air, but then again I’m not so self-centered that I believe the world should bow down to my wishes. Your parents probably told you that you were unique and super-special, didn’t they, narcissist? Give yourself a trophy and a pat on the back, winner.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“””Kids aren’t as stupid as people like you seem to think, and if you bother to take the time to explain things to them (like money/cost, gifts and their context, and the meaning of the word ‘no’).”””

Floyd, for the most part I agree with what you’re saying, but I don’t agree with the statement above. By providing explanations to your kids, you are encouraging them to seek explanations for other decisions from other adults (like teachers, for instance). The items you noted (money, gifts, etc.) should be discussed, but not in the context of an explanation as to why you’re not going to buy them the Super-Awesome-Whatever they just saw on t.v.

Generally speaking, the answer should be “no” and the answer to “whyyyyyyy” should be “because I said so”.

whydoyouwantmyname? says:

Re: Re: Re:

Floyd, for the most part I agree with what you’re saying, but I don’t agree with the statement above. By providing explanations to your kids, you are encouraging them to seek explanations for other decisions from other adults (like teachers, for instance).

I hope this is sarcastic. Why shouldn’t kids seek explanations from other adults? Why shouldn’t kids question the world around them? I prefer to leave the raising of sheep to shepherds. 😉

Bryan says:

Not Their Job, Be The Parent


I could not agree with what you said any more than I already do.

If parents would step up and start paying attention to what their kids are doing online, what they’re watching on TV, and who they’re hanging out with.

And when you don’t like it? /You/ stop it. I say /You/ like that because it is up to /you/, the parent to tell /your/ kids “no”.

You’re the parent. You control their access to the internet, the TV, and who they’re allowed to talk to.

If your kid is getting in trouble on the internet (Jessi Slaughter, great example) it is up to /you/, the parent, to pull the plug and tell them “no more”.

If you don’t want your kid watching Girls Gone Wild ads at 3AM, it is up to /you/, the parent, to pull the plug and tell them “no”.

If your kids are hanging out with someone who’s in constant trouble with the police, it is up to /you/, the parent to tell them “no, you can’t”.

At no point should it ever become the Government’s job to raise your kids for you.

And to those of you who auto-cry “Well I can’t keep an eye on them 24 hours a day!”, guess what? Find a way. There are a few hundred thousand programs that will monitor your kids online. There’s a plug in the wall that will keep your kids from watching TV when you don’t want them to. And if your kids are leaving the house without you knowing about it? Guess what, step it up.

It isn’t the Fed’s job to raise your kids, It’s yours.

sitarane (profile) says:

Yes, it is the FCC's job

I’m all against protecting morality and leaving it up to people’s responsibility and free will. But kids don’t have free will. They’ll mostly agree with the nearest source of authority and believe it with all their heart.

Parents should filter, of course, but every time they block content, they get the bad-guy sticker. Why make it happen more than necessary. Plus, uninterested parents make terrible judge of what is harmless and what is too much. Search your memory.

It’s true that it’s hard to draw the line. Pokemon is a good example (as well as Transformers and He-man, for the older crowd 🙂 ). But in those cases, what was sold was what was on screen (in a much idealized version): action figures.

But, Ok, the line is hard to draw. Now I still think it’s better badly drawn than not at all.

Torinir (profile) says:

Re: Yes, it is the FCC's job

Actually, no… it’s not the FCC’s job to play parent to kids. That’s (MAJOR SHOCKER) the parent’s job. Parents need to actually get off their butts and take charge, not let their kids run rampant.

Parents aren’t supposed to be a full day’s source of asspats, they’re supposed to be leadership for their children. It’s called responsibility. I know, I know… hard concept to work with, right?

Kid doesn’t like being told “No”? Too bad, so sad. Parent’s house, parent’s rules. Suck it up, princess.

Cowardly Annon says:


Ok, let’s for the sake of argument say that they have a point. The product line already exists, where as for pokemon, transformers and GI Joe the product line followed the show. (I’m not 100% sure about GI Joe, but let’s run with it).

What about Mattel and it’s Barbie movies? For each movie they release a line of dolls with all the characters from the movie. I remember working with a woman that said it was evil. Her daughter would watch the movie than in the store she’d see the dolls and would want them. She was actually dreading Christmas season one year because of the 12 Princesses movie. 12 pretty Barbie dolls that all the little girls wanted.

This is a blooming joke.

Prince Valiant says:

Kill them all...

All children should be blinded and defeaned at birth to prevent them from seeing or hearing anything wrong.

Or, they could be killed outright, so that they never have to experience any bad thing in the wordl.

Sounds ridiculous? Of course.

But at what point do our attempts to shelter children from the world have a decidedly negative impact on them in the future.

To give you a biological example. If you take a child, and for the first 18 years you keep them in a completely controlled environment that doesn’t let any virus in… what happens when he turns 18 and you let him out… or he breaks out?

He dies a week later because his system has built no immunity to disease and his body can’t fight off even the weakest version of the flu.

We are killing our children by saving them.

And sadly, the masses are too stupid to realize it.

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