CDD Challenges DIC Kids Expert

Calling it "the beginning of a war," the Center for Digital Democracy's Jeff Chester said he plans to ask the Federal Communications Commission to seek an outside children's TV expert as it reviews his and another group's license challenge of two D.C. TV stations for underdelivering kids' TV programming.

The Center, along with the United Church of Christ, filed the petition Wednesday against three kids shows, two on Fox's UPN affiliate WDCA and on Pax's WPXW, saying they lacked educational value.

While the stations' owners were not commenting. Andy Heyward, CEO of DIC Entertainment, which supplied the two WDCA shows, Stargate Infinity and Ace Lightning, took strong issue with the challenge, pointing out that his shows have been developed by children's TV researcher and expert Don Roberts of Stanford specifically to meet the FCC's children's TV criteria.

The petitioners had their own expert, Professor Dale Kunkel of the University of Arizona, who Chester said was working pro bono.

Pointing out that Roberts is a paid consultant for the DIC shows, Chester said he wanted the commission to "look closely at so-called independent experts who receive financial compensation to put their stamp of approval on these shows."

DIC has 10 shows in its weekly three-hour kids educational TV block -- the FCC requires broadcasters to carry three hours a week of educational kids shows -- all of which Heyward says were developed with Robert's input.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.