In case your children don’t watch enough TV — or don’t spend enough time being advertised to — your family is in luck. A new TV channel, The Hub, is preparing to launch.
Owned jointly by Discovery Communications Inc., a media giant, and Hasbro, the No. 2 toymaker in the U.S., the channel has in its line-up shows based on kids toys like My Little Pony, GI Joe, Transformers and Pound Puppies. Brilliant and educational programming, no doubt!
Behind the channel’s launch is Margaret Loesch, a TV executive who ran Fox Kids 20 years ago and perhaps even engaged you in shows like “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.” She’s used to the criticism her kind of kids programming draws and she doesn’t sweat it one bit. After all, you turned out OK, right?
In fact, her big selling point is that they run only six minutes of commercials for every hour of shows for preschoolers, which is half of the maximum of 12 minutes per hour. And odd claim, since that entire hour of cartoons based on Hasbro toys and games is ONE BIG COMMERCIAL.
They say that only 20 percent of their programming will be based on Hasbro products, such as “Family Game Night,” where contestants play giant versions of games like Twister, Cranium and Yahtzee. Also in development is a live-action show based on R.L. Stine’s horror books, which the executives are quick to point out have nothing to do with Hasbro.
Sure, fine. Twister! Stine! On TV … much better than actually playing Twister or scary stories.
Susan Linn, who continues to fight the uphill battle that is the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, calls the whole thing “egregious” and I would have to agree. We need less children’s TV, not more, and fewer reasons to buy more cheap, plastic crap, not more. Folks at The Hub say, “hey, were not the first to do this” and it’s true. But they’ll have to squeeze the profits, ratings and brain cells out of someone else’s family.
Mine won’t be tuning it.