HOW FAR WILL A BROADCASTER GO?
I had to laugh at this story regarding the Federal Communications Commission about to assess a record fine of $24 million against Univision, the nation's largest Spanish-language broadcaster for failing to meet the agency's expectations for airing educational children's programming.
It seems that Univision tried to convince the FCC that their airing of several telenovelas, or limited run soap operas which usually run nightly during prime time, met the guidelines for children's programming. The Associated Press report notes that:
They included "Complices al Rescate", [produced by the Mexican television network Televisa] which followed 11-year-old identical twin girls who switched identities after finding out they had been separated at birth. [The show's Web site notes that it is aimed toward children].
"A significant purpose and key educational objective of this program is to illustrate how friendship, love and kindness can help overcome life's adversities," the network's lawyers said in court papers.
But [FCC Chairman Kevin J.] Martin said the FCC was unconvinced. Critics said the show featured adult plots and complex themes that were ill-suited for young children.
Telenovelas are tremendously popular throughout the Hispanic world, and are beginning to gain notice among English language broadcasters as well. The MyTV network has actually started airing two 13-week telenovelas that run weeknights [and a recap of the week's shows on Saturday night], Wicked Wicked Games and Watch Over Me.
Martin approved the fine, and the commission is expected to follow suit as part of a deal which would allow Univision to be acquired by a group of private investors for $12.3 billion, according to a story in the New York Times.
Y'know, the FCC requirements when it comes to educational and informational programming for children is only three hours a week! Surely a broadcaster can do better than simply try to con the agency that a prime time soap opera meets the requirment.