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Sachs attacks TV as babysitter

NCTA President Robert Sachs on Monday encouraged parents to use television as a learning tool instead of as a babysitter, he said during a speech at the Cable Television Public Affairs Association forum in Washington, D.C.

"The key word is selective," Sachs said. "Kids need to learn to be selective about what they watch on TV and what they access on the Internet. Parents need to be actively involved in guiding them." Sachs was responding to efforts of activists who are encouraging kids to shut off the television during "TV Turnoff Week," and read books or play outside instead.

While Sachs said he agreed that kids shouldn't watch too much TV, there also is a great deal of beneficial programming on cable. Sachs pointed out several educational cable programs, such as an episode of C-SPAN's American Writers series featuring James Fenimore Cooper, author of The Last of the Mohicans. MTV periodically broadcasts its documentary on the murder of Matthew Shepard, Anatomy of a Hate Crime, as part of its year-long campaign to increase awareness of the tragedy of hate crimes. And HBO this week is airing a family special on the artist Francisco Jose de Goya.

"Denying children TV is no more likely to encourage kids to enjoy reading, for instance, than denying them ice cream would encourage them to like brussels sprouts," Sachs said. - Paige Albiniak