The ABC television network has canceled "Cro,'' an innovative attempt to blend education and entertainment in a Saturday-morning cartoon.
"Cro" introduces scientific principles through the eyes of an 11-year-old, prehistoric Cro-Magnon character to a target audience of elementary-school-age viewers. The show is produced by the nonprofit Children's Television Workshop in New York City and is finishing its second season on ABC.
Vice President Gore criticized the network for the move in a speech this month in which he defended federal support for public broadcasting.
The Vice President said commercial pressures force the major networks to "take quality educational children's programming off the air." He noted that while ABC has canceled "Cro," it is planning a new series for next fall's Saturday children's lineup based on the lowbrow hit movie "Dumb and Dumber."
"That's really the issue right there," he said in the March 2 speech. "It doesn't get any clearer than that."
Janice Gretemeyer, a spokeswoman for ABC, said poor ratings were the main reason for the cancellation.
"The decision to cancel 'Cro' was a difficult one," she added.
Ms. Gretemeyer pointed out that in addition to "Dumb and Dumber," the network is adding "Madeline," an animated series based on the classic children's books by Ludwig Bemelmans.
"We feel this show will qualify under the Children's Television Act, so we are not reducing our commitment" to educational programming, she said. The 1990 federal law requires broadcasters to air programming that is expressly educational.
The Children's Television Workshop has indicated it will try to find a new home for "Cro" on a cable channel.
Entertainment television in the United States often shows child characters being rewarded for antisocial behavior, according to a study for Children Now, a California-based advocacy group.
The content study of major broadcast and cable networks found that child characters are usually motivated by relationships and romance rather than by religion, community, or school-related concerns.
The study by Katharine Heinz-Knowles, an assistant professor of communications at the University of Washington, further shows that children from some minority groups, especially Hispanics, are underrepresented in television series.
More information about the study is available from Children Now, 2001 South Barrington Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90025; (310) 268-2444.
Vol. 14, Issue 25