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NAB Defends Kids Shows

The National Association of Broadcasters took issue with a newly released study that concluded broadcasters were not providing enough high-quality kids programming.

In its response, NAB pointed out that the study from advocacy group Children Now did not include any digital multicast channels, thus excluding Ion's qubo channel of 24-7 educational kids shows.

"Local broadcasters have a deep commitment to serving children, whether it be through educational programming, public service announcements focusing on children's issues, or our voluntary AMBER Alert initiative that has rescued hundreds of kidnapped children," said NAB Executive VP Dennis Wharton. 

Wharton said he was pleased that Children Now acknowledged that "all children's educational programming on broadcast television has educational value," and pointed out that according to the report, more than three quarters of the shows were either moderately or highly educational.

Children Now emphasized that it was the "highly educational" category that needed work, with only 13% of the shows in that category as contrasted to 63% in the "moderately educational" basket.

Wharton also took the opportunity to get in a plug for cable carriage, saying "as we transition to all-digital broadcasting, these efforts will only be strengthened by a rule that would prohibit cable and satellite TV operators from removing free multicast programming like ION's 24/7 qubo Channel from their program line-up."

Christy Glaubke, director of Children Now, says that the reason Ion was excluded is because they only looked at programs that reached over 30% of the national audience, and chose analog because that is what most kids have access to.

At Wednesday's press conference in Washington on the study, said Glaubke, researcher Dale Kunkel had likened it to election polling, where likely rather than unlikely voters are polled. Glaubke said they applauded Ion and are "very impressed with their commitment to kids." She said that she hoped things would be different after the digital transition, "but at this point in time, that was something we could not really include."

As to Children Now's assessment of value, she took issue with the characterization that all the programs had educational value. "Programs that have low value (23%) are certainly not an acceptable level of educational value," she told B&C.