The depiction of violent acts during Saturday-morning network-television programs for children has increased dramatically under federal deregulation of children's shows during the 1980s, according to the latest study from two university researchers.
The survey, by George Gerbner of the University of Pennsylvania and Nancy Signorielli of the University of Delaware, found an average of 26.4 violent acts per hour on children's weekend programming since 1980. Before that year the average was 18.6 per hour.
The "violence profile," published periodically since 1972, defines television violence as any overt act or threat to hurt or kill someone. The researchers noted that violent acts during children's programming usually are nonlethal and often humorous, but they conclude that the viewing audience "has been immersed in a tide of violent representations that is historically unprecedented."
The survey was released late last month by Senator Paul Simon, Democrat of Illinois, who is sponsoring legislation designed to encourage the television industry to reduce violence through self-regulation. Measures have passed both houses of the Congress but must be approved by a conference committee.
The violence profile found that since the last such survey was done in 1986, the rate of violent acts depicted on evening prime-time programming has remained steady, at about five to six per hour. About half of all dramatic characters are involved in some form of violence, and about 10 percent in killing, the study found.
Children's weekend programming over the past three years showed more than 25 acts of violence per hour, committed by 7 out of 10 characters, the study found.
The researchers conclude that television's "mean and dangerous world cultivates a sense of relative insecurity, vulnerability, and mistrust, and--despite its supposedly 'entertaining' nature--alienation and gloom."
The Learning Channel, the cable-television service devoted to educational and informational programming, has launched "Learning Matters," a series focusing on education issues.
John Merrow, former education correspondent for the Public Broadcasting Service's "MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour," is the executive editor and anchorman for the series, which debuted late last month with an interview with U.S. Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos.
"Learning Matters," which will appear monthly in February and March before going to weekly broadcast in April, will include interviews with major educators, tips from teachers on what works in the classroom, and a segment called "Memories," in which prominent people recall their favorite teachers.
Mr. Merrow, who holds a doctorate in education and social policy from Harvard University, won an Emmy award for his work on PBS and has been host of the "Options in Education" series on National Public Radio the past eight years.
Funding for the program has been provided by a $200,000 grant from the Lily Endowment Inc. of Indianapolis.
The February edition of the 30-minute show airs on Feb. 23 at 8:30 P.M., and on Feb. 26 at 12:30 A.M. and Feb. 27 at 3 P.M. All times are Eastern.
ABC-tv will broadcast "Challenger," a "docudrama" about the fatal space-shuttle mission whose crew included the teacher Christa McAuliffe, on Feb. 25 at 8 to 11 P.M. Eastern time.
The made-for-television movie will focus on the training and anticipation experienced by the first participant in nasa's Teacher-in-Space program, as well as on the technical and weather difficulties that doomed the flight. Ms. McAuliffe and six other astronauts died when the Challenger exploded shortly after lift-off on Jan. 27, 1986.
Ms. McAuliffe is portrayed by the actress Karen Allen, who appeared in the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has launched a series of magazine advertisements aimed at promoting public television as a teaching tool.
The first ad appeared in the January issues of Instructor, Learning, and Teacher magazines and was designed to be clipped out by teachers and sent home with their pupils. The ads promote programs by subject, such as "WonderWorks" for reading, "Square One TV" for mathematics, and "Eyes on the Prize II" for social studies.
New ads will be developed for March and May, according to the cpb
The children's-advertising review unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has developed guidelines for the advertisement to children of "teleprogram" services using the phone codes 900 and 976.
The services, which encourage viewers to make toll calls to hear a celebrity or other recorded message, have proliferated in recent years.
The guidelines call for advertisements to make it clear to children that they should seek their parents' permission before making calls to teleprograms. The ads should also make it clear that callers will be getting a recorded message, not live interaction with a star or character, the guidelines state.
A brochure on the guidelines is available from the Council of Better Business Bureaus, 845 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10022.--mw