July 2008

CCFC to Channel One:  Stop Peddling Prescription Drugs to Children; CCFC to the FTC:  Whatever Happened to BabyFirstTV?; A New Report from the FTC:  Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents: A Review of Industry Expenditures, Activities, and Self-Regulation; Protect Children from Violent Films on Planes; Help Get Our Message to Obama and McCain; CCFC’s Susan Linn and Diane Levin at the APA National Convention

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CCFC to Channel One:  Stop Peddling Prescription Drugs to Children

CCFC is demanding that Alloy Media and Marketing immediately remove ads for prescription drugs from its Channel One website.  Channel One, the controversial in-school news program that makes viewing ads a compulsory part of the school day for grades sixth through twelve, was purchased by Alloy in 2007.  Channel One has pledged not to market prescription drugs to its young audience.  Yet ads for the prescription acne medications Differin and BenzaClin have been running on the Channel One website for at least the past week.


“Alloy is taking Channel One to a new low by peddling prescription drugs to children,” said CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn.  “The company that has done more than any other to commercialize classrooms is now delivering young students to the pharmaceutical industry.”


“There has never been a better time for schools to pull the plug on Channel One,” said Jim Metrock of Obligation, Inc., a nonprofit advocacy organization that monitors Channel One. “There is simply no reason for schools to deliver a captive audience of students to a company like Alloy that violates its own meager advertising policy and advertising industry standards.” 


For more on CCFC’s concerns, please visit http://commercialfreechildhood.org/pressreleases/channelonedrugs.htm.


CCFC to the FTC:  Whatever Happened to BabyFirstTV?


It’s been over two years since CCFC filed a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Complaint against Baby Einstein, Baby Brainy, and BabyFirstTV for false and deceptive marketing. The FTC’s subsequent investigation spurred significant changes to Baby Einstein’s and Brainy Baby’s marketing strategies.  But for BabyFirstTV, it’s business as usual.


The FTC has never responded explicitly to CCFC’s Complaint against the nation’s first-ever 24 hour television station for babies.  As a result, BabyFirstTV continues to claims its channel “is an educational tool” that can give babies a “head start in art, math, language, and music” and that specific programs are designed to develop specific skills such as language development, pattern identification, or creativity.


CCFC believes that BabyFirstTV cannot substantiate its educational claims because there is no publicly available research demonstrating that television is beneficial to children under two.  In 2007, BabyFirstTV sent a cease and desist letter to CCFC stating that, “any and all claims [BabyFirstTV] makes about its programming are backed by overwhelming substantiation.”  Yet the “evidence” offered by BabyFirstTV consisted of research conducted almost exclusively with older children and entirely with children watching programming other than BabyFirstTV.  For instance, BabyFirstTV cites a study that found,  “Preschoolers who viewed educational TV programs had higher grades and read more books in high school” as part of the “overwhelming substantiation” that its own programming is educational for babies.


Corporations often send these kinds of letters to prevent advocacy groups like us from publicly airing their concerns.  As you can see, we have no plans to keep quiet.


For more information, including a timeline of events and links to all relevant documents, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/pressreleases/bftftc.htm.


A New Report from the FTC:  Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents: A Review of Industry Expenditures, Activities, and Self-Regulation.


A new report from the Federal Trade Commission paints a frightening picture of American childhood immersed in sophisticated, integrated marketing campaigns for food and beverages.  The food industry exploits every technology and technique at its disposal to insinuate its brands into the fabric of children’s lives.  Companies weave together television and Internet advertising, brand licensing, product placement, in-store advertising, premiums, cross-promotions, and viral and in-school marketing to create omnipresent campaigns designed to take advantage of the most vulnerable consumers.  Unfortunately, the FTC’s proposed solution – industry self-regulation – is the very system that has allowed the food industry to infiltrate nearly every aspect of children’s lives.


For more of CCFC’s reaction and links to media coverage and the report itself, please visit http://commercialfreechildhood.org/pressreleases/ftc-foodreport.htm.


Protect Children from Violent Films on Planes


Did you know that airlines routinely show PG-13 films with graphically violent content on overhead screens that can viewed by anyone including young children?  And that parent complaints to airlines about this issue fall on deaf ears?  That’s why we were happy to learn about www.kidsafefilms.org, an organization founded by parents who were tired of having their children held captive by media violence on flights.  Since the website went live in 2007, Congress has introduced “The Family Friendly Flights Act” to protect kids who fly, the issue has received national media coverage on CNN and the front page of The New York Times,  and nearly 7,000 people have signed an online petition demanding change. You can help – log onto www.kidsafefilms.org, sign up for the email newsletter and then sign the online petition.


And if you’re not convinced this is an issue that demands attention, take two minutes to watch this video of actual clips from films shown on planes.


Help Get Our Message to Obama and McCain


Our campaign to get Democratic and Republican platform planks to protect children from marketers is gathering momentum.  Last week, we met with the Democratic Party's National Platform Director and CCFC members around the country attended local platform meetings to advocate for a platform plank on the commercialization of childhood.  Now we need your help to demonstrate the broad support for these planks by signing petitions to the Democratic and Republican Platform Committees - and then forwarding this message to friends and family to urging them to do the same:


To sign the petition to the Republicans, please visit



To sign the petition to the Democrats, please visit



CCFC’s Susan Linn and Diane Levin at the APA National Convention


CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn and Dr. Diane Levin will be part of a symposium entitled Childhood in the Age of Electronic Media and Online Communications at the upcoming American Psychological Association national convention in Boston.  The symposium will  be held on Sunday, August 17 at 9:00 AM at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Meeting Room 160 C.  For more information about the convention, please visit http://www.apa.org/convention08/.