Remote control: How parents can restrict kids' TV diet

I agree with Froma Harrop's basic message of parental responsibility for children's TV watching ("Parents Control Kids, TV Doesn't," Feb. 17). My family doesn't use the V-chip either. We don't need it because we do not allow our children to watch gore and filth. But as responsible parents who closely monitor what our children watch, we are unable to protect our children from the continual onslaught of offensive advertisements.

One afternoon, I watched Teletubbies on PBS, and the promotional spot immediately afterward showed an image of a plane crashing. This image was meant to entice the grownups watching Teletubbies with their children to watch Frontline later in the evening. That totally inappropriate spot was presented on PBS during its otherwise wonderful children's programming periods. In one afternoon I saw that spot several times.

Advertisements and promotions should be appropriate for the shows they are presented alongside. The TV industry needs to take this one last giant step to protect our children and truly meet their needs.
Mike Benning
Wayne, Pa.

We were gratified to read Ms. Harrop's recent column promoting the role of parents and caregivers in managing responsible television viewing for their families.

Because not all TV shows may be appropriate for all family members, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and Cable in the Classroom have launched an information-rich website to aid parents in finding options to control television viewing.

ControlYourTV.org is dedicated to ensuring that cable customers are better informed about the educational and entertaining cable programs available to children and families, technology that enables cable customers to block channels or programs, and resources about media literacy.

Typically, the digital cable boxes in use in many homes today allow a caregiver to block programs in a variety of ways, including by date and time, or by TV rating. For those without cable boxes, cable companies can provide customers with the technology to block channels free of charge.

Parents can also control what their children watch through the use of the TV Parental Guidelines Ratings that appear in the upper left corner of the TV screen at the start of most programs, in conjunction with the V-chip, which today can be found in about 100 million television sets in homes around the country.
Rob Stoddard
Senior Vice President, Communications & Public Affairs, National Cable & Telecommunications Association

I couldn't agree more with Harrop, but it is easier to control what kids see on TV than most parents realize. Removing the TV from the household is easier than one might imagine, and the rewards are greater than I can list.

You will soon find there is nothing on TV that is worth more than spending time with your family.
Lauren Palmer
Oak Park, Calif.

'Message management' not president's job

The Feb. 17 article "Bush administration blurs media boundary" asserts that "in the age of television, the art of message management has been increasingly vital to the modern presidency." That is not true. The president's role is a constitutional one: His oath is to defend the Constitution, and his obligation is to see that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed. Manipulation of what is reported, distortion of facts, and duping the media all run contrary to the role of any president. The press, however, has a role and an obligation under the Constitution: to speak plainly about what is done.
Howard C. Anawalt
Monte Sereno, Calif.

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