Nov. 29, 2005
SENATORS BLAST TV COMPANIES FOR INDECENT PROGRAMMING
Government Curbs and Cable Changes Suggested
Nov. 9, 2005
STUDY FINDS TV SEX CONTENT ON THE RISE
Sen. Barack Obama Criticizes Media Companies for 'Coarsening' the Culture
July 20, 2005
PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM MEDIA SEX AND VIOLENCE
New Industry Group Advertising Campaign Emphasizes Parental Responsibility
April 27, 2005
CABLE INDUSTRY MANEUVERS AGAINST DECENCY STANDARDS
Declines Content Changes; Promotes Parental Controls
April 19, 2005
MOST VIEWERS FAVOR TV DECENCY RULE ENFORCEMENT
Support Expanded Government Pressure; 60% Favor Broadcast Standards for Cable
April 15, 2005
BUSH FAVORS DECENCY STANDARDS FOR CABLE, SATELLITE
Presidential Comments to Editors' Conference Ratchets Up Issue
April 7, 2005
CONSUMERS CONCERNED ABOUT TV INDECENCY
New FCC Chief Tells Cable Industry Conference of Increasing Complaints
March 2, 2005
CONGRESS PROPOSES DECENCY RULES FOR CABLE, SATELLITE
Senate and House Committee Heads Endorse Measure
Nov. 24, 2004
VIACOM TO PAY $3.5 MILLION FCC INDECENCY PENALTY
Settlement Covers Radio Shows but Not Super Bowl
Nov. 3, 2004
MORALITY VOTE NUMBERS WORRY ADVERTISING EXECS
Some Fret About New Conservatism in Public Taste
Feb. 2, 2004
FCC TO PROBE SUPER BOWL HALFTIME BREAST INCIDENT
NFL Announces MTV Unlikely to Produce Shows Again
Jan. 26, 2004
THE PORNO-IZATION OF AMERICAN MEDIA AND MARKETING
How Hard-Core Sex Stars are Penetrating Mainstream Culture
The Family Friendly Programming Forum, composed of marketers such as Ford Motor Co., Kraft Foods, McDonald's Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores, made some obvious choices in honoring the WB Network's "7th Heaven" with a lifetime achievement award, and naming TNT's "The Wool Cap" as best movie. UPN's new half-hour hit "Everybody Hates Chris," which was financed through the Forum's script development fund, was named best new comedy.
Some less-than-obvious choices included ABC's "Lost" as best drama and CBS's "Amazing Race" as best reality show. The awards reflect a broadened definition of what's considered family-friendly TV, said Dawn Jacobs, co-chair of the group and VP-advertising at Johnson & Johnson.
No cookie-cutter approach
"It's not a cookie-cutter approach to programming," Ms. Jacobs said. "The shows need to be engaging, reflect issues that families face today and resolve them responsibly. There can be a place for just about every kind of storyline."
Because the "Leave it to Beaver" sensibility of years ago doesn't capture today's diverse viewers and their challenges, the definition of what's acceptable and appropriate programming for those families is "purposely broad," Ms. Jacobs said.
ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson said he thinks "Lost" was a good choice because of its multicultural cast and its redemptive storyline. "People hear 'family friendly' and they think saccharine-sweet, sugar-coated, but that's not the reality," Mr. McPherson said. "By broadening the definition, there's more verisimilitude to what they're recognizing."
A show must draw viewers across age groups, particularly multi-generational families, to be considered for an award. When the subjects are intense -- teen pregnancy, alcoholism, sexual abuse -- they can encourage discussion among families if they're handled responsibly, another criteria for being honored, Ms. Jacobs said.
Other winners were the CBS comedy "King of Queens;" Jim Belushi as the father figure in ABC's "According to Jim," Reba McEntire as the matriarch of the WB's "Reba" and Ty Pennington as best reality host on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
The family friendly forum is having its best development year, with four of its financed scripts making it to broadcast networks. Those include "Everybody Hates Chris," ABC's "Commander in Chief," the WB's "Related," and the midseason CBS sitcom "The New Adventures of Old Christine."
In a congressional hearing Tuesday, some senators pounced on TV programming that they said promotes sexuality, explicit content and pornography. They pointed mostly to cable TV shows, not broadcast programming, and said that government limits could be the answer because the entertainment industry isn't policing itself well enough.
The discussion has centered on whether consumers should be able to pick and choose channels a la carte or if cable companies should be forced to offer a family-friendly tier. There's also been talk of Congress stepping in to give the Federal Communications Commission the muscle to act on violence and indecency complaints. Another hearing is scheduled within weeks.
Industry watchers said that there is indeed a new definition of what's appropriate for family viewing and that parents should be the ones deciding what's allowed in their homes.
"'Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood' in prime time is not going to fly," said Shari Anne Brill, VP-director of programming at media buying firm Carat USA. "The whole reason the Family Friendly Programming Forum was established was to create more shows that families could watch together. And that's happened. It's not about having the least objectionable programming, but about quality shows that would attract viewers."
The Seventh Annual Family Television Awards will air Dec. 11 on the WB.