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In a campaign launched this fall, Action for Children's Television has taken aim at what it calls the "TV news gap for children."

Charging that deregulation has encouraged the television industry to "abandon its obligation to provide educational programs for young viewers," the Massachusetts-based nonprofit group has asked broadcasters to use part of the growing segment of their air time devoted to news for programming that will help children understand "what's happening, where it's happening, and why it's happening."

The Columbia Broadcasting System's decision last March to drop its Saturday morning children's program, "In the News," act says in a new publication, "may have sounded the death knell for network news aimed at viewers under the age of 16."

Yet, according to the organization, newscasts designed for adults are watched each week by more than 2 million children under the age of 12. The advocacy group suggests that parents, teachers, and broadcasters look at news coverage of violence and other disturbing events "through a child's eyes" and anticipate questions and fears.

To aid in that process, it has produced a 25-page illustrated booklet, "TV News & Children," available for $5 per copy from Action for Children's Television, 20 University Road, Cambridge, Mass. 02138.

Children's Express, the nonprofit news service staffed by children, has just opened a new Spanish-language bureau in New York City and has plans to offer the kind of television-news coverage urged by act.

"Children's Express News Magazine" will be aired in prime time on Public Broadcasting System stations, beginning in the fall of 1988.

In addition to its New York City bureaus, Children's Express has outlets in Newark, N.J., Boston, San Francisco, Melbourne, Australia, and Wellington, New Zealand.

"Foxfire," a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation to be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 13, on CBS, was inspired by the efforts of Georgia schoolchildren over the past two decades to uncover and preserve Appalachian history and folklore.

Written by the actor Hume Cronyn, the play is based on a series of books by Eliot Wigginton, the high-school teacher in Rabun County, Ga., who more than two decades ago sowed the seeds for a vast educational enterprise when he encouraged his students to seek out the stories and knowledge of local mountain people. (See Education Week, Dec. 4, 1985.)

The television drama will feature a 75-year-old Appalachian woman whose character is based on the Foxfire books' most

celebrated personage, Aunt Arie.

Mr. Cronyn and his wife, Jessica Tandy, head the cast of "Foxfire." John Denver plays Mr. Wigginton.

Public television's Outreach Alliance has begun a national media campaign to focus attention on the child-care issue, which was ranked as the number-one social concern in a recent poll of PBS stations.

The "Child Care America" campaign, announced this month at a Washington press conference, will include the airing on national public television April 13 of a primetime documentary, "Who Cares for the Children?" It also will involve various community activities sponsored by PBS stations and local groups. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has committed $1 million to the effort.

For further information, contact Jeff Gentes, National Project Director, KCTS-tv, (206) 443-6796.

The National Broadcasting Corporation and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching are sponsoring the first NBC National Teachers' Awards this year to recognize excellence in the use of television to teach about freedom of the press.

The network will present $1,000 cash awards to the 10 high-school teachers judged to have devised the most effective methods for using the medium to convey lessons on the role and responsibility of a free press. The panel of experts who will judge the competition will be named by the foundation.

All certified teachers in public and private secondary schools are eligible for the competition. The deadline for entering is May 13; winners will be announced in September.

For an application or further information, write to NBC National Teachers' Awards, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 5 Ivy Lane, Princeton, N.J. 08540.

What is billed as the first major documentary on the work of American philanthropic foundations will be available on tape or film on a free-loan basis to interested groups beginning Dec. 1.

"Foundations: The People and the Money," a 28-minute film produced with funding from more than two dozen major foundations by the Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Maysles Films, Inc., had its premiere showings last month in seven U.S. cities. It presents a vivid, behind-the-scenes account of the operations and impact of organizations that donate billions of dollars each year to support education and other civic causes.

For further information, contact Karol Media, 22 Riverview Dr., Wayne, N.J. 07470.

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