FCC Not Kidding With Disney, Viacom

    November 18, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

New limits on TV and Internet advertising aimed on children go into effect on January 1st, and efforts by the Walt Disney Company and Viacom to delay or stop them were brushed aside in federal court.

The US Court of Appeals in Washington made a procedural ruling to move the case to the 6th District Court in Cincinnati, AdAge reported. Disney, Viacom, and the Association of National Advertisers think the FCC limits go too far.

In Cincinnati, the Universal Church of Christ has challenged the same limits, but claims that they don’t go far enough. Viacom and Disney both believe the limits will be stopped on a number of grounds:

The media companies argue that the rules would prevent the use of characters such as Mickey Mouse and SpongeBob SquarePants anywhere on Web sites; that they are unconstitutional; and that they represent an attempt by the FCC to regulate the Internet, over which it has no authority.

Viacom had sought to have the appeals court stay the FCC order pending court arguments and was subsequently joined by the ANA. Disney sought an order to force the FCC to reconsider the rule by Nov. 15. The United Church of Christ’s Office of Communications, headed by former FCC commissioner Gloria Tristani, is arguing that the FCC should have done more to limit interactive content.

At issue is a provision that would count program promotion as advertising, which would count against ad limits on shows aimed at those 13 and younger. Also, cartoon characters could not be used to sell products online if those web sites get a mention in the program being aired.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.