An advocacy group on Tuesday asked the Federal Communications Commission to block a soon-to-debut TV cartoon show starring characters first created to market Skechers footwear to children.
Unless banned, the group said, the show could pave the way for Ronald McDonald, Tony the Tiger and other cartoon pitchmen to become stars of their own series — potentially inundating children’s television with what amount to full-length commercials.
The complaint was filed with the FCC by the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, targeting a series called “Zevo-3” that’s scheduled to premiere Oct. 11 on the cable network Nicktoons. Its three teenage, super-powered heroes (yawn) — tasked to save New Eden City from evil monsters — previously have appeared in comic books and TV ads promoting Skechers’ line of children’s shoes.
The main characters “are walking and talking advertisements for specific lines of Skechers shoes,” said the complaint, which describes “Zevo-3” as “the first children’s television program starring characters that are known to children only as commercial logos and spokescharacters.”
Specifically, the complaint argues the half-hour show would violate a federal requirement in the Children’s Television Act that no cable TV operator shall air more than 12 minutes of commercial matter per hour during children’s programming. The show also would violate the FCC’s requirement of a clear separation between commercial content and programming matter, the complaint said.
Oh, the humanity!
Yes, children are susceptible to advertising pressures, thus causing some inconvenience for parents seeking to impose healthy diets and appreciation of the need to budget limited funds. But this is all part of a parent’s job. And while raising kids in total isolation from the popular culture is probably neither possible nor wise, parents can certainly decide when the TV is on, what their kids watch, and where their kids are free to surf on the Internet.
Bureaucratic make-work programs like the Children’s Television Act would have been constitutionally indefensible, even back when the federal government had any funds left to finance such hokum. But cable TV doesn’t even use any “public airwaves.” As it impacts cable television, the Children’s Television Act is an unconstitutional infringement on free commerce.
Reviewing the 1996 Democratic platform, which mentioned the words “child,” “children” or “childhood” 89 times, John J. Pitney Jr. wrote in Reason magazine in 1997: “It says America needs the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities because ‘investment in the arts and humanities and the institutions that support them is an investment in the education of our children.’ Government-subsidized television is essential because ‘we want our children to watch ‘Sesame Street,’ not ‘Power Rangers.’ ”
Really? Strange that we don’t hear any complaints about cartoon Tinkerbell clones being used on TV to promote energy conservation and recycling.
Get government out of our televisions.