Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 2:06am
TV PROGRAMMING FOR BABIES TO PREMIERE AMID CRITICISM
[SOURCE: Associated Press]
Escalating an already heated national debate, a first-of-its-kind TV channel is set to premiere today designed specifically for babies -- an age group that the American Academy of Pediatrics says should be kept away from television altogether. The round-the-clock channel is called BabyFirstTV. For $9.99 a month, it is available initially by satellite through DirecTV and later through cable TV providers as well. The three companies behind BabyFirstTV are Regency Enterprises, a film and TV production company that is a partner of News Corp.'s Fox Entertainment; Kardan, an investment group based in the Netherlands and Israel; and Bellco Capital, a private Los Angeles-based investment fund. TV offerings already abound for older toddlers, and a lucrative -- though controversial -- market has developed for baby-oriented videos, attracting Walt Disney Co. and the makers of Sesame Street. But until now there had been no ongoing TV programming aimed at infants. Critics of TV for infants also are skeptical of assertions by BabyFirstTV and other companies that their products are designed to be watched by babies and parents together in an interactive manner. "Experience tells anyone that it's not going to be used that way," said Michael Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston. "Parents use it to park their kids in front of the TV so they can get things done."
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