FARMINGTON, Conn. — Townspeople began their second "TV Blackout" Wednesday with youngsters determined to read books instead of watching television and adults vowing to sacrifice such favorite shows as "Dallas."
But some residents said they didn't intend to give up their viewing for even one evening of prime time.
Schools and libraries issued pledge cards to students in hopes of inspiring moms, dads, brothers and sisters to participate, said Helen McMullen, principal of the Noah Wallace School and one of the blackout organizers.
The "I Pledge Not to Watch TV" card has a chart listing the days of the month so youngsters can keep track of the hours they resist temptation and keep the sets off, McMullen said.
Residents renounced television for the month of January last year and were so impressed with results of the experiment that they decided to try again this month. Organizers said about 1,000 residents shut off their televisions and 5,000 others watched a lot less. Instead, they played games, read, exercised and developed hobbies.
But not everyone was enthusiastic about participating this month.
"I don't think I'll do it," said Bertha Benoit, a homemaker. "My husband and I start watching with the news right through to 7:30 p.m. I really like Dan Rather. Then I watch the movies around 8 p.m."
Helen Bassow voiced similar sentiments.
"Maybe if we were younger we'd do it, but we haven't got much else besides TV for entertainment," she said. "It's difficult for us to read. I'm afraid we won't stop watching."
Large bulletin boards have been placed in the school for youngsters to draw or write down what they do when they are not watching television.
"We want them to see that there is something better than watching TV," McMullen said. "If kids see what their peers are doing, they might get the idea that they want to do it themselves."
Organizers said about 1,000 residents went cold turkey in 1983 and shut off their television sets for the whole month, while about 5,000 viewers watched considerably less.
McMullen suggested that the blackout might be easier this time because some families continued to cut back on television watching after last year's one-month embargo.
"The last blackout had a large influence," she said. "Parents have been more selective in their viewing throughout the year. You now hear people say they only watch it on weekends or they put more thought into what they watch."
For those who just can't resist tuning in, special committees have been organized to recommend programs of educational value.
"Some families will turn off the television completely, and others will just cut back," McMullen said. "We're stressing that some programs have educational value, and we like to see children watching worthwhile programs."