New York -- Cable in the Classroom (CIC) turns 10 this
year, and it wants to make sure that it invites as many students, teachers and parents as
possible to its birthday party.
To that end, CIC is asking 40 programming partners and
8,500 affiliated cable systems to designate September as CIC programming month.
The goal is to highlight the wide array of commercial-free
educational programming -- which systems generally air in the wee hours of the morning so
that parents and teachers can tape it for classroom viewing -- and to redirect it to
"September is naturally the time when we think of
schools," CIC managing director Megan Hookey said, adding that the organization
wanted to tap into the "natural energy" of the back-to-school season.
CIC's CEO advisory committee and the working committee for
the birthday promotion debated whether the timing would conflict with the start of the new
fall television season. But Hookey noted that the timing of broadcast television's fall
launches isn't what it used to be.
The first 10 days of programming during the birthday
promotion will focus on history and social studies, with following weeks devoted to
science and math; literature; and humanities and arts.
The nonprofit organization is seeking a high-profile
marketing partner to help put the scheduling specifics in front of viewers.
CIC public-affairs director Carol Vernon wants cable
customers to know that such programming is available and brought to them by their local
cable companies. Raising CIC's profile could help a local operator's image within the
community, she said, even among households that don't have young children at home.
For the promotion, affiliated operators and networks will
be asked to commit to running CIC's celebrity-backed public-service announcements
surrounding the event. Operators are also encouraged to promote CIC by running its splashy
birthday logo on billing envelopes, truck signs and print ads.
Following September's programming push, operators will be
asked to continue the drive to promote CIC's birthday through local community events in
October and November. CIC sent marketing kits to its affiliates earlier this year asking
them to think ahead about ways to highlight CIC during this anniversary year.
Through local cable operators, CIC provides free cable
hookups and programming to 80,000 schools around the country. Home-schoolers can take
advantage of its Web site and magazine, although
they are not offered free cable.
But even with all of the schools already involved in CIC,
there are still teachers who don't know about the service.
"The teaching community tells us that we've got to do
a better job of telling people about this," Hookey said. "It's a shared