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The Learning Channel this month rolled out the first show of its new Saturday morning block of children's educational programming.

"Mad Math'' will teach fractions, decimals, and ratios to its target audience of 9- to 14-year-old viewers, using live-action characters, humor, and graphics.

The first half-hour episode aired May 9 on the cable-TV channel, with 12 additional shows scheduled for Saturdays at 9 A.M. Eastern time.

The "Mad Math'' episodes center on three students and an animated character who solve math problems.

The Learning Channel, which is available in about 17 million U.S. households, is developing a home video and book package tied to the series.

For the past nine months, the Russian State Radio and Television Company has been holding discussions with the Children's Television Workshop about a Russian version of "Sesame Street.''

C.T.W. produces the popular children's educational show seen on the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States and co-produces 13 foreign versions.

Last week in Washington, officials of C.T.W. and the Russian TV network appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's subcommittee on European affairs.

Oleg Popotsov, chairman of Russian State Television, requested that a small portion of economic aid under consideration for the Commonwealth of Independent States be designated to help get the co-production started.

Mr. Popotsov said the Russian network has the talent and the studios to produce a version of "Sesame Street,'' but it lacks the necessary startup funding. The network has been unable to find a corporate sponsor, he said.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Delaware Democrat who chairs the subcommittee, said he believed that "American educational children's television may have something unique and valuable to offer in transforming the society of the former Soviet Union.''

The panel took no action on the groups' request.

A Christian parents' group last week announced a boycott of PepsiCo Inc. over its advertisements for Pepsi-Cola soft drinks on the "Channel One'' classroom TV news show.

Robert L. Simonds, president of Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Citizens for Excellence in Education, said the group objects generally to commercials in the classroom, as well as to several specific ads for Pepsi products that feature models in risque attire.

Mr. Simonds said his group has more than 900 chapters and 125,000 members.

Vol. 11, Issue 34, Page 11

Published in Print: May 13, 1992, as Media Column
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