The Children’s Television Act of 1990: How the FCC is Failing and What They Can Do About It

Taelor Thornton 

Associate Editor 

Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2024 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently hit Nexstar Media Group, Sinclair Broadcast Group and nineteen other broadcast licensees with a combined $3.4 million fine for repeatedly airing children’s Hot Wheels commercials during a Hot Wheels-themed show created for children. The FCC was authorized to impose these fines through the Children’s Television Act  of 1990 which was amended in July of 2019 to provide broadcasters with greater programming requirements.  

Broadcasters, cable operators, and satellite providers are all supposed to comply with the Act. However, the oversight process requires only that such entitles report their compliance with the Act to the FCC annually. This presents issues with ensuring that compliance is regularly monitored and that violations are caught before the statute of limitations for fining non-compliant entities is reached.  

For example, the aforementioned combined 3.4 million dollar fine was imposed two years after the violation occurred. These delays clearly show that the FCC needs to implement a more effective oversight process in order to identify noncompliance earlier, before the statute of limitations runs.  

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