Television

US media companies unite in effort to help parents monitor kids' TV

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MUMBAI: The American Advertising Council has joined a broad cross-section of the media and entertainment industries to launch a national multi-media public service advertising (PSA) campaign calling on parents to take a more active role in their children's television viewing habits.

The campaign, entitled Media Management, was produced in partnership with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) representing cable programmers and operators, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA); television broadcast networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and direct-to-home satellite providers DirecTV and Echostar.

The new PSAs are being distributed to media outlets nationwide this month and will appear in advertising time and space donated by the media. The media company campaign partners have committed to donate $300 million in advertising time and space for the new PSAs during the next 18 months.

Children's bedrooms have increasingly become multimedia centers, raising important issues about supervision and exposure to unlimited content. Ad Council research shows the majority of parents (70-80 per cent) have serious concerns about age-inappropriate television content. However, according to a Kaiser Generation M study, 53 per cent of 8-18 year-olds say their families have no rules about TV watching.

In addition, of the remaining 46 per cent who say their families do have rules, the vast majority (80 per cent) say these rules are enforced only some of the time, a little of the time, or never. Despite their general lack of awareness about blocking technologies, many parents are open to ideas that promise more control, and agree that these technologies can be an effective tool.

"For the first time parents have total power to control all TV programming in their home. Through TV, cable and satellite blocking mechanisms, parents can become the TV Boss in their homes. Whatever programs parents believe to be unsuitable for their nine and ten year olds, can be easily blocked, so that when parents go out to dinner, they can be secure in the knowledge they have blocked out all programs they don't want their young children to watch. By going to a website, TheTVBoss.org, they can learn how to control all programming in the home," said former MPAA president and CEO Jack Valenti.

Created pro bono by advertising agency McCann Erickson New York, the Media Management campaign includes new television, radio, print and web advertising, which aims to educate and inform parents with young children about how they can monitor and supervise their children's television consumption.

"We are proud to join Jack Valenti and all of our media and entertainment partners in this unprecedented campaign to give parents the tools they need to block from their homes television programming they feel is inappropriate for their children. This campaign is compelling, engaging and innovative, and I believe it will be generously supported by the media and - more importantly - motivating for parents," said The Advertising Council president and CEO Peggy Conlon.

The new television spots humourously feature scenes in which parents take steps to protect their children from exposure to inappropriate behavior. All of the ads say to parents, "You're the boss of what your kids watch. Make the rules. Know the ratings. Use parental controls."

The new PSAs can be viewed at www.adcouncil.org/default.aspx?id=360.

"It is important for parents to know that they have the power and the responsibility to monitor what their children watch on TV. We decided to show that empowered parent in a humourous, relevant way," said McCann Erickson New York chief creative officer Joyce King Thomas.

The campaign encourages parents to visit a new comprehensive website, www.TheTVBoss.org, which provides information on how they can take a more active role in their children's media consumption. Developed by Ripple Effects Interactive, the website features tips on managing television programming, (including using the V-chip and cable/satellite blocking mechanisms), making program choices together, talking to children about what they're watching and checking program content and ratings.

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