Through the Wire


'Normal’ Kids Need To Get Out More

We can remember a day when our parents told us we’d go blind if all we did all day was stare at a TV screen instead of going outside to play with friends. They’d be horrified by some of the statistics in the latest report on kids’ media consumption in “The New Normal,” a research presentation by Nickelodeon.

Screens — whether on a television or a computer — are becoming a larger part of the day of the average 6-to-14-year-old. The report reveals that those elementary to junior-high aged consumers spend 24 hours and seven minutes each week devouring programs on digital cable. Overall TV usage has increased by an hour a week over the past year.

That time-drain doesn’t keep these kids from other media, though: Another 16 hours and 48 minutes a week is spent using computers. Half of these kids now have high-speed connections.

When they’re not on the computer, they’re sending text messages via cell phone at a rate of 14.4 per day.

They make 8.8 cell phone calls a day to friends.

On the upside: they’re efficient. The report says kids fit eight hours and 26 minutes worth of media into 6 hours and 13 minutes by multitasking.

That would mean going outside to play is not one of the multitask elements. Too bad.

Don’t Worry About a Bubble In U.S. for Unclean Houses

When How Clean is Your House? proved a popular concept in the United Kingdom, producer FremantleMedia decided to try to duplicate the format here, selling the show to Lifetime Television.

The series features cleaning experts invading the home of slobby renters and homeowners, exposing disgusting levels of filth behind their closed doors.

But the producers have found the show, peddled in local versions around the world, can be difficult to produce. A German version is a challenge, Fremantle executives said, because they can’t find many crappy homes.

There’s no problem finding subjects here in America, though, FremantleMedia North America CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz gleefully related.

Woo-hoo! We’re No. 1!

Halloween Humor Helps Katrina-Weary Cox Folks

Cox Communications New Orleans, after dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, found time for a much-needed lighter moment this Halloween. The system had a Halloween luncheon where a number of employees wore costumes reflecting the black humor of their situation.

Some employees came dressed as refrigerators. That’s because the sight of refrigerators — ruined by flooding — sitting on garbage piles is so ubiquitous in the Big Easy these days.

“Life as been a little tough for the insurance adjusters lately, so one of our employees came as a heavily wounded insurance agent,” said Greg Bicket, vice president and regional manager for Cox in New Orleans. “And one came as the unacknowledged brother of one of our team members, from the shallow end of the gene pool.”

The gathering proved a welcome break for the New Orleans folk. “Everyone remarked how nice it was to just laugh,” Bicket said.

Ellis Runs 26 Miles for Rocky Mt. Children’s Law Center

Our own Leslie Ellis ran her first 26.2-miler — the Marine Corps Marathon — on Oct. 30, finishing just a few minutes over the five hours that her brother, who ran with her, had set as a time goal. She even did it with a tissue injury to her right foot that required surgery last week. (The patient reports being fine, but hobbling a bit.)

Ellis had another goal: to raise funds for the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, a Denver institution that provides free legal care to abused and endangered children. Actually that goal kept changing. She started out hoping to raise $10,000 in donations, but as the money started coming in — lots of it from corporate sponsors and current or former cable people — the target rose to $25,000 and then $40,000, because she turned 40 this year. With at least one tax-deductible contribution coming in late last week, she reported the total at $38,293.

To help her hit the goal — and find out what former cable programming executive personally pledged $10,000 — check out or the RMCLC’s Web site.

Contributors: Linda Haugsted, Linda Moss.