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Kids' TV the FCC Loves

Syndicators can still find opportunities in the highly competitive world of children's TV. One key category is educational programming. Syndicators are working to create kids' shows that meet with FCC approval.

At this week's NATPE conference, children's programmers DIC Entertainment and Raven Moon Entertainment will pitch their wares to stations.

DIC Entertainment has 430 stations carrying its shows. With all 211 TV markets included, DIC offers national advertisers access to 100% of the U.S., coverage that few other syndicators can promise.

Tribune Broadcasting handles all of DIC's ad sales.

“We take attentive care of the stations,” says DIC Chairman and CEO Andy Heyward. “We make sure we meet FCC guidelines to fulfill stations' educational requirements. We've done all our homework.”

The newest arrival on the DIC kids-TV schedule is the classic cartoon The Smurfs. Among DIC's other offerings are off-PBS Liberty's Kids, which it produced, and Sabrina, Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, Archie's WeirdMysteries and The Littles.

While DIC is an established kids-TV player, Raven Moon is a newcomer. Its Gina D's Kids Club launched in syndication as a weekly half-hour last fall. Now the company is trying to turn the half-animated, half-live-action show, geared toward preschoolers, into a strip.

Produced by DIC CEO Joey DiFrancesco and his wife, Bernadette, the show stars their adult daughter, Gina, and features a supporting cast of lively puppets and animated characters.

So far, Raven Moon has only 18 episodes of Gina in the can but plans to get to 40 by next fall and to 65 soon after. Gina D is also distributed on the Christian-oriented Daystar Network, which is carried by satellite TV and reaches 1.1 billion viewers globally. Role Entertainment distributes the show, which is cleared on 112 PBS, WB, UPN, NBC and ABC stations, covering 71.2% of the country.

Joey DiFrancesco positions his program as “a good-morals, family-values show that emphasizes self-esteem.” He adds, “With the death of Mr. Rogers and Shari Lewis, there wasn't a real person who could be a role model for children.”

Gina D is different from the children's programming that PBS typically carries,” says Zvi Shoubin, managing director of Maryland Public Television Networks, who expects to pick up the show as a strip. “I thought elements of the show were entertaining. Preschoolers identify best with a live host.”