Federal Communications Commission seeks comment on complaints about new Skechers cartoon

By Joelle Tessler, AP
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

FCC examines complaint about Skechers cartoon

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is looking into complaints that a new television show based on characters first created to market Skechers shoes to kids would violate government rules on advertising in children’s programming.

The FCC is seeking public comment on a petition filed last week by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood seeking to block the cartoon series “Zevo-3,” which premieres on the cable network Nicktoons on Oct. 11. It stars three superheroes from comic books and TV commercials promoting Skechers.

The Boston-based group says the program would violate a requirement in federal law that cable companies air no more than 12 minutes of commercial material per hour of children’s programming, and FCC rules mandating a separation between commercial content and programming.

In its petition, the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood argued that the cartoon should be considered an advertisement for Skechers footwear because its three superheroes — Kewl Breeze, Elastika, and Z-Strap, who battle the evil Dr. Stankfoot.— promote specific lines of shoes.

“For children, the characters . embody the shoe lines they represent, so much so that retailers report that kids often refer to the shoes by character name rather than by the shoe model,” the petition says.

Josh Golin, associate director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, welcomed the FCC inquiry.

“This would be the first children’s television program based on advertising icons and as such, the entire program would be an ad,” he said, adding that the cartoon could “open the floodgate for shows starring Ronald McDonald, Tony the Tiger and all the other advertising characters.”

Nicktoons, owned by Viacom International Inc., and Skechers had no immediate comment.

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