New York -- A total of 66 cable networks are participating
in this year's "Tune In to Kids and Family Week 3" -- which will kick off June
21 with a 30-minute special, Just Think, to be simulcast by about two-dozen cable
channels -- officials said last week.
Under the initiative, which was started in 1997, the 66
participating cable networks have agreed to televise at least one half-hour of family,
kids' and educational programming in primetime from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on at least one day
during the week of June 21 through 27.
According to the National Cable Television Association,
which manages and provides the bulk of the funding for "Tune In," most networks
will exceed that minimum.
At a press conference describing this year's effort, Josh
Sapan, CEO of Rainbow Media Holdings Inc., said one reason why the "Tune In"
week was started was to stimulate the production of family programming.
Sapan was one of three co-chairs for this year's "Tune
In," joining Nickelodeon president Herb Scannell and Fox Family Channel CEO Rich
And as it stands now, cable networks offer more than 80
percent of all of the TV hours devoted to children, according to Scannell.
"Cable is where kids know, and parents know, they can
go," he added.
Fox Family and Triage Entertainment produced Just Think,
which will be simulcast June 21 at 7:30 p.m. That show, hosted by Fox Sports personality
James Brown, focuses on the power of words, symbols and actions as they pertain to issues
of multiculturalism, diversity, tolerance and race relations.
The tragic high-school killings in Littleton, Colo., were
alluded to at several points during the press conference -- particularly when two
12-year-old girls, Erin May and Meg Kiernan, both reporters for the syndicated News for
Kids, addressed the group.
May told the audience she is from Jefferson County, Colo.,
where the shootings took place.
"I believe school should be a place where safety is
guaranteed," May said, questioning how the media, video games and such must have
affected the teens who murdered their fellow students then committed suicide.
May and Kiernan said they had been at the White House the
day before with President Clinton, who called for the Federal Trade Commission and the
Department of Justice to study whether the entertainment industry -- music, video games
and films -- is violating its own voluntary codes and luring kids to watch and listen to
violent, explicit fare.
NCTA vice president of public affairs Josie Martin pointed
out that the president's call for study only pertained to the music, video-game and film
"We have not been asked to provide any
information," she added.
At this time, the NCTA favors "voluntary
measures" in terms of programmers policing the violence they depict in their shows,
Martin said. She pointed out that the association participated in the president's recent
summit on entertainment and violence.