ACTION for Children's Television (ACT), a national organization that advocates better television for children, has announced that it will close its doors at the end of 1992.
The Cambridge, Mass.-based group has worked for more than two decades to advocate public-interest laws that apply to children's programming.
"With the passage of the 1990 Children's Television Act, this goal has been achieved," Peggy Charren, founder and president of ACT, said at a press conference last week. "People who want better TV for kids now have Congress on their side."
The Children's Television Act of 1990 requires broadcast stations to limit the amount of advertising aired on children's television and provide programs that meet "educational and informational" needs of children - as a condition for license renewal. It also establishes a process whereby citizens can hold broadcast stations accountable.
"It's time to expand beyond the public policy arena - which is really where ACT has devoted most of its efforts," says Ms. Charren, a grandmother who started ACT in her living room in 1968.
Even if the television law is a major victory, ACT's closing should not be an occasion for broadcasters to "break out the champagne," joked Charren at one point during her remarks at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education.
As a first step in dissolving ACT, Charren presented the graduate school with a gift of $125,000 to fund a lecture series on children and media and an annual ACT Fellowship to a graduate student doing research in the field.
Panelists at the news conference represented organizations that will continue to carry the torch of improving children's television. Some of their pressing concerns include: * Addressing overcommercialization of children's media. Keeping advertisers out of the classroom. * Maximizing broadcast potential for children. Working with new technologies (cable, VCRs) to offer good programming to children while at the same time working to see that all children - whether from rich or poor families - have equal access to that programming. * Promoting "healthy" programming not loaded with ads for "junk" food and free of ads for alcohol and cigarettes. * Encouraging parental discretion in children's viewing.