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Smart Television Alliance To Promote Positive Kids TV

Oct 16, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Arguing that it’s better to publicize good shows rather than rip bad ones as a strategy to improve kids TV, a coalition of groups including the National PTA and the National Education Association is unveiling a Smart Television Alliance to extensively tout better programs to parents, caregivers and advertisers.
“Much of children’s television stinks,” Susan Scanlan, chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, told a Washington press conference today. “We don’t need a poll to learn that children have all too easy access to violent, indecent, inappropriate or just plain stupid TV programming.”
She said the groups, which represent 11 million women, hope the push will increase ratings and advertiser support for the better shows. The urging will come in a twice-monthly newsletter and a Web site that members of the alliance groups can access, and each group could further publicize the shows to its members.
The Web site, www.smarttelevisionalliance.org, will list shows recommended by child experts, but won’t directly rate shows itself. Ms. Scanlan said the alliance may meet with networks, advertisers and program providers.
The alliance is being formed with funding from TiVo.
“Rather than sit back and wait and wait for something to change, [the alliance] is going to change children’s television ourselves,” Ms. Scanlan said.
National PTA CEO Warlene Gary said the media industry hasn’t done enough on kids TV on its own.
“Those in the television industry have had years to provide parents and families with the tools they require and deserve. Unfortunately these efforts have fallen far short of even basic needs. The PTA was intimately involved with the negotiations that created the television rating system. We had high hopes for it, but those hopes have not been realized,” she said.
NEA President Reg Weaver said teachers too have been eyeing kids TV.
“We have long been concerned about the impact of television, particularly violent television, on children,” he said. “Studies show that the average child spends about 900 hours in the classroom during the course of a school year, but 1,023 hours in front of a television. Think about the level of violence to which they are frequently exposed. … Thousands of studies have been conducted on children’s television and violence, and according to a majority, kids who watch violent programming are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior. We are seeing all too often that aggressive behavior in how it hurts other students as well.”
Other groups in the alliance include the Afterschool Alliance, the Association for Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies, Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, Kids First, Common Sense Media, the Parents Choice Foundation and the YWCA.
An alliance official said one reason for the positive focus was a fear that bashing programs could be counterproductive, potentially making “bad” programs more appealing to kids.

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