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Broadcasters' Group Accused of Using 'Misleading' Data

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Washington--The National Association of Broadcasters issued "false data" in publishing a guide on children's television programming, officials of Action for Children's Television charged at a press conference here last week.

Peggy Charren, president of act, a consumer-advocacy group based in Newtonville, Mass., called the guide "a heartless exercise in premeditated deception" and said she believed it was designed to hinder efforts in the Congress to pass legislation that would require television stations to air at least one hour of programming for children each day.

But according to Shaun Sheehan, a spokesman for the nab, "The Guide to Innovative Children's Programs for Television" was produced for program managers at television stations to help the stations develop appropriate programming for children. Mr. Sheehan said the guides were distributed to television stations and others with "an interest" in children's television.

The guide lists 101 "regularly scheduled, locally produced" children's programs "currently airing at some nab member stations." But according to Ms. Charren, that information is misleading.

In a telephone survey conducted by act officials late last month, the group discovered a number of inaccuracies in the guide, Ms. Charren said.

According to the act research, about 25 percent of the shows listed in the guide are not currently aired, 3 percent are not scheduled regularly, and about 6 percent are short segments, rather than programs.

"The nab wants Congress and the American people to think that commercial television is a paradise for young viewers," Ms. Charren said, adding that "anyone who has ever searched the television schedule for children's shows knows otherwise."

Mr. Sheehan said the information in the nab guide is accurate and "was an honest effort."

"We're not going to pay any attention to the [act] findings," he added.

HR 4097, a bill to require commercial television stations to air educational and informational programs for children at least one hour a day, is currently under consideration in the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Consumer Protection, and Finance. The bill was introduced last October by Representative Timothy E. Wirth, Democrat of Colorado.--cc

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