More than 75 cable channels have banded together for one week to pledge prime-time hours to the first Tune In to Kids and Family initiative, an event they hope will prove that cable is a family-friendly place
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The first-ever Tune In to Kids and Family initiative, which will take place April 7 to 13, was founded last year on a lofty ideal: to demonstrate cable’s voluntary commitment to kid-friendly programming. But from these idealistic beginnings, the initiative has taken a decidedly pragmatic turn.
Spearheaded by the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) and an executive steering committee comprising top cable channel chiefs, the week-long event has two primary goals. One is to encourage families to be more discriminating in their TV viewing. The other is to showcase the wide range of kids and family programming available on cable.
To educate families, a ‘critical viewing’ brochure and local workshops will be offered, through multiple service operators, based on The Family and Community Critical Viewing Project, a two-year partnership between the Parent-Teacher Association and the cable industry.
For the programming part of the initiative, the 75-plus channels participating in the initiative will each block out a minimum of one hour of prime time during that week to showcase their kids and family shows, and to air public-service announcements (PSAs) that promote critical viewing workshops and other family-programming issues.
Joshua Sapan, president and CEO of Rainbow Programming Holdings and the creator of the initiative, saw the idea of blocking out an hour of prime time as a way to grab viewers’ attention. ‘We will be carving out prime time to remind viewers of all ages what cable programmers have to offer,’ says Sapan.’I thought we could utilize and, in a sense, reorganize the way television was put forward for a period of time. This would stimulate people’s attention to the issue of [kid-friendly programming] and raise their involvement.’
The Tune In to Kids and Family icon will designate the special programming, which must be ‘free of excessive or gratuitous violence, strong language and sexual theme or content,’ and must ‘deglamorize harmful, illegal or discriminatory behavior and stereotyping.’
Additional promotional plans include a special insert in TV Guide, a pledge by Cable in the Classroom and Better Viewing magazines to support the initiative and a nationwide contest by The Family Channel and USA Today awarding students a chance to attend the NCTA Convention in New Orleans. Local cable operators will also host community events.