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The Other F-Word: "Family"

Margaret Loesch, founding CEO of the Hallmark Channel, who was there from 1997 to 2001, is watching the cable industry’s gyrations to invent a "family-programming tier" with amusement.

She’s not so sure that a family tier will catch on with viewers and is absolutely positive Hollywood producers don’t want to be associated with "family shows," because the genre seems to be just the opposite of cutting edge.

At Hallmark, "I offered $100 out of my own pocket to anyone on my team who could come up with a term that was synonymous with ‘family’ but didn’t use the word ‘family,’ because within our industry, it’s sort of a death knell," she says. "The perception is family programming is either old-skewing programming or cartoons."

Loesch, who is now co-CEO of her own film- production company, The Hatchery, says, "I bet you, at ABC Family right now, they’re tearing their hair out because they’d like to change the name, because you just don’t know what to do with that word."

But, she adds, "If you can get beyond the word ‘family’ and redefine it, the bottom line is, the public likes it. The public wants to sit down and watch programming that parents can watch and not be embarrassed if their kids walk through the room."

Just don’t call it family programming.