Action for Children’s Television, which for the last 23 years has lobbied the government and broadcasters to improve the quality of children’s programming, will cease operation by the end of the year, its founder said last week.
Peggy Charren, the president of the Cambridge, Mass.-based organization, said ACT achieved its central mission with the passage in 1990 of the federal Children’s Television Act, which requires broadcasters to serve the educational needs of children.
She said it is now up to larger national organizations like the National PTA and the American Academy of Pediatrics to prod local stations to comply with the law.
“They are as competent to complain about abuses as I am,” Ms. Charren said.
Ms. Charren, who founded ACT in her home in 1968, is adept at getting the media to focus on children’s television and related issues, and is considered a master of the pithy quote.
‘The broadcasters who think they can break open the champagne better reconsider,” she said, noting that she has spent the last year helping build a coalition of groups that will take over ACT’S role in monitoring broadcasters and pushing for better educational programming for children.
To aid that effort, Ms. Charren announced a gift of $125,000 from ACT to the graduate school of education at Harvard University to fund a lecture series on children’s television and a graduate fellowship for research in the field.
ACT had already donated its large video collection of children’s-TV programming to the school’s library.
“We are going to make Harvard a voice for children’s television,” she said.
Catherine E. Snow, the acting dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, said: “Children spend even more time watching TV than they do in school, so it is crucial that the quality and diversity of what they have access to be as good as possible. This grant will allow us to convene an event every year to focus on the quality of children’s programming.”
Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, who chairs the House subcommittee that regulates broadcasting and has worked with ACT to pass children’s TV legislation, said Ms. Charren “is the champ.”
“As long as children continue to be viewed as profit centers by commercial programmers, we will need a counter movement” to protect them, he added.
A version of this article appeared in the January 15, 1992 edition of Education Week as Action for Children’s Television To Cease Operations