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FCC Probes Skechers Cartoon After Complaints

The FCC is looking into whether a television cartoon featuring characters that also advertise Skechers shoes violates government rules intended to limit commercial material in children's programming.

'Zevo-3', which begins airing October 11 on Nicktoons, features three superheroes used by Skechers. Characters Kewl Breeze, Z-Strap and Elastika are named after lines of shoes that fight monsters in a fictional city and amount to program-length advertisements for the company, according to a complaint filed by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

"Zevo-3 is a 22-minute commercial masquerading as a kids' TV show," says the group's director, Susan Linn. "Skechers and Nicktoons are attempting to escalate commercialization on children's television."

"If they are successful, we can expect other companies to follow suit," she warns. "A McDonald's show featuring Ronald McDonald, a Burger King show featuring the King, a Kellogg show featuring Tony the Tiger these are just some the possible children's television programs we may see in the future."

"We believe that the show violates several of the few existing rules we have to protect children from over-commercialization."

The characters originated in a Skechers comic book series created in 2006 and are depicted on shoeboxes where Skechers footwear are sold.

But co-executive producer of the show, Kristen Van Cott, insists there are no overt pitches for Skechers shoes in the cartoons and she believes the show conforms with FCC guidelines.

"We do not believe that the show is a program-length commercial, nor do we agree that its transmission would violate the Children's Television Act or any of the Commission's rules or policies," says Nickelodeon.

September 23, 2010 |

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