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May 15, 2007

 

Contact: Josh Golin (617-896-9369; josh<at>commercialfreechildhood.org)    

 

For Immediate Release

 

 

CCFC Urges Cable Companies to Tune Out BabyFirstTV

 

 

Citing false and deceptive advertising, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) is urging the ten largest U.S. cable systems not to carry BabyFirstTV, the first television station for babies. BabyFirstTV, available only on satellite TV, is now working to expand its reach to cable. A letter sent today to each company’s CEO details CCFC’s concerns and warns that if cable systems provide BabyFirstTV with a platform, they will be aiding the channel as it seduces parents into the erroneous belief that screen time is beneficial to infant and toddlers. 

 

In 2006, CCFC filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against BabyFirstTV for making false and deceptive marketing claims that its programs are educational for babies and toddlers. That complaint is under review.

 

 “BabyFirstTV’s false and deceptive advertising undermines babies’ wellbeing by exploiting parents’ natural tendency to want what’s best for their children,” said CCFC’s co-founder, Dr. Susan Linn. “Cable companies face a critical choice: they can attempt to profit from this exploitation or they can support families by refusing to work with companies that actively deceive parents.”   

 

BabyFirstTV’s advertising states that its programming helps infants as young as six-months develop a wide range of cognitive and social skills, but there is no evidence that television is educational for babies and some research suggesting that it may have a negative impact on cognitive development and regular sleep patterns.  BabyFirstTV provides no research to support claims that its programming is educational for babies.  Many of these claims fly in the face of expert advice or existing research on babies and screen media.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under two. 

 

Marketing television programs as educational is an effective means of gaining access to the increasingly coveted infant and toddler demographic.  A study released last week found that the number one reason parents allow babies to watch television and DVDs is the mistaken belief that the programming is educational and/or good for brain development. 

 

"Exposure to TV takes time away from more developmentally appropriate activities such as a parent or adult caregiver and an infant engaging in free play with dolls, blocks or cars," said Frederick Zimmerman, lead author of the study and a University of Washington associate professor of health services. "While appropriate television viewing at the right age can be helpful for both children and parents, excessive viewing before age 3 has been shown to be associated with problems of attention control, aggressive behavior and poor cognitive development. Early television viewing has exploded in recent years, and is one of the major public health issues facing American children."

 

The complete text of CCFC’s letter can be found at http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/pressreleases/bftcable.pdf.

 

 

The letter was sent to:

 

Steve Burke, President & Chief Operating Officer, Comcast Cable Communications

Glenn Britt, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Time Warner Cable

Neil Smit, President & Chief Executive Officer, Charter Communications

Patrick Esser,   President, Cox Communications

James   Dolan,  President & Chief Executive Officer,     Cablevision Systems Corporation

Robert  Miron,  Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Bright House Networks, LLC

Rocco  Commisso, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Mediacom Communications

Jerry Kent, Chief Executive Officer,      Suddenlink Communications

Michael Willner, Vice Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Insight Communications

Thomas Might, President & Chief Executive Office, CableOne

 

 
   

     

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