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Kaiser: First Drop For Real-Time TV Viewing Among Youth

For the first time, the amount of time youth (ages 8-18)
spent watching "regularly-scheduled TV" dropped--by 25 minutes, from
2004 to 2009--according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But traditional TV remains the major screen for most young
people. According to the study, 59% of media time is still devoted to live TV
programming, with the rest a mix of time-shifted TV, plus DVDs, online, and

TV remains the dominant medium at 4 hours and 29 minutes per
day; followed by music/audio at 2:31; computers, 1:29; video games, 1:13;
print, :38 (38 minutes), and movies, :25.

If the report is accurate, kids and youth spend the majority
of their waking hours in front of some kind of screen, with that screen time up
from 6:21 in 2004 to 7:38 minutes today. Factor in multitasking, says Kaiser,
and the total jumps to 10:45 a day, and even more for Black (12:59) and
Hispanic (13:00) kids,

If past is prologue, the FCC will be paying close attention.
The previous
were cited by the FCC in openingits inquiry last fall into kids media in the digital age, and FCC chairman
Julius Genachowski is scheduled to speak at the opening of the conference
Wednesday morning before heading back to the commission for an open meeting at
10:30 a.m.

Certainly Kaiser made no bones about wanting to be part of
the regulatory conversation. "We hope that the data provided here will
offer a reliable foundation for policymakers trying to craft national media
policies," it said in the report's preface.

The study suggests the FCC may be right in putting emphasis
on mobile video and broadband as an increasing factor. According to the study,
mobile media is driving cell phone use, though that use is still a small
fraction of total media time. Young people now spend more time watching TV,
listening to music and playing games than talking on their phones--49 minutes
per day, on average, vs. 33 minutes per day.

The FCC is also trying to drive broadband adoption by
melding online and on-TV video. That, too, would appear to be the way to go
given the dominance the TV set continues to have in the lives of tomorrow's

According to the study, two thirds of respondents said the
TV was usually on during meals, and half said the set was on "most of the
time," whether or not anyone was watching it.

While the report asserts no causal connection, it says that
heavy media users reported getting lower grades.

It also reported that minority kids spent far more time with
TV than "white children"--in the case of Blacks, it was almost six hours
vs. 3.5 hours for white kids.

"The bottom line is that all these advances in media
technologies are making it even easier for young people to spend more and more
time with media," said Vicky Rideout, who headed up the study.  

Kaiser is submitting the study as comment in the FCC's kids
media proceeding. The original deadline for comment was the end of this week,
but ithas been moved to Feb. 24 and reply comments to March 26.

 The study, "Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8- To
18-Year-Olds," is the third such study from Kaiser (the others were for 1999
and 2004). The 2009 sample was based on 2,002 3rd-12th grade students ages
8-18. The study was a combination of a self-administered in schools and a
subgroup of 702 respondents given media use diaries to track multitasking. The
margin of error is calculated at plus or minus 3.9% for the main group,
somewhat higher for the subgroup.

John Eggerton
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.