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Unilever is the latest big advertiser to join the ad industry's Family Friendly Programming Forum.

The forum, organized a year ago to encourage the TV industry to produce more prime-time shows fit for kids and parents, this week stages the biggest event in its brief history, a $400-a-ticket Hollywood luncheon to honor "The Cosby Show" and other programs geared for a family audience. Some 500 business executives, mostly from the Hollywood TV community, are expected at the Sept. 9 luncheon.

The group began with 10 members and has now grown to include 33 advertisers with the addition of Unilever. Other members include such major TV advertisers as AT&T Corp., Coca-Cola Co., Ford Motor Co., McDonald's Corp. and Procter & Gamble Co.


The forum is officially supported by the Association of National Advertisers, and other ad industry organizations -- including the Advertising Council, American Association of Advertising Agencies and American Advertising Federation -- are lending support.

"I think there was some initial skepticism" in the TV business, said Johnson & Johnson VP-Advertising Andrea Alstrup, who co-chairs the forum with P&G Global Marketing Officer Robert L. Wehling. "But now that we are moving ahead with this, I think we are taken more seriously."

Forum members have met individually with TV executives, she said, and earlier this year a group of member companies agreed to provide the WB network with seed money to finance development of pilot scripts for new family shows.

Noting she was "not thrilled" about the new TV season program lineups, Ms. Alstrup said the advertiser group is "in this for the long term." The forum, she added, believes that TV shows geared for the family audience can deliver the audience ratings that TV networks and advertisers require.


The roster of advertiser members in the forum has grown along with favorable reaction from the public to its goals. Appearances of forum officials on CNN interview shows and newspaper accounts of its goals have generated unsolicited letters of encouragement to its member companies, Ms. Alstrup said.

She said a publication of the American Family Association -- which in the past has attempted to organize consumer boycotts of advertisers that sponsored TV programs it found objectionable -- recently carried a positive article on the forum's activities.

In Washington, where legislators and the White House earlier this year summoned entertainment and advertising industry executives to complain about violence in the media, the Senate and House of Representatives may soon pass resolutions

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