D.C. Eyes DTV Downside

Activist group Children Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, lawmakers and regulators are concerned about the impact of the digital transition on kids.

The groups have put together a half-day conference on the subject, scheduled for June 9 in Washington.

Heading the list of topics are what new public interest obligations should be put on broadcasters and the possible "adverse implications of digital TV technology," including what the group sees as potentially intrusive interactive programming. There will also be a panel, moderated by CBS News' Joie Chen, looking at the educational and entertainment upside of the new technology.

The pair of panels will feature various activists, academicians and some industry representatives, though no commercial broadcast or cable network panelists are slated.

Among the Washington types scheduled to participate are Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and FCC Commissioners Kathleen Abernathy, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein. Senator Hilary Clinton (D-N.Y.) has been also invited.

Clinton and Brownback are co-sponsors of a bill that would fund an NIH study of the effect of the media on childhood development.

Cable and commercial networks were invited, but declined, citing scheduling conflicts.

Handful of children's shows. WGBH-TV Boston has an episode of Arthur that has two caption tracks, definition of words in show. They can pause. Try out alternative solutions. sign language and audio descriptions.

Zaboomafu on PBS. With Intel enhanced DTV version with companion data available to computer users. viewers with computerscan interact with on-screen animation, download info. Digital channels devoted to Kids TV Noggin (preschool) and The N (teenagers) Both Viacom.

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.