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Icon Proposed to Introduce Educational Programming

Television: PBS president believes such a device would be a 'welcome mat' to young viewers.

July 29, 1996|JUDITH MICHAELSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PBS President Ervin S. Duggan will propose at today's White House summit on children's programming the addition of an icon to highlight positive educational shows that would serve as a "welcome mat" to viewers.

Speaking to television critics in Pasadena on Sunday, Duggan said he sees the icon as a supplement to the negative "warning" mechanism of the V-chip. V-chip technology, allowing parents to block programs labeled as violent, is scheduled to be introduced next year.

While Duggan had initially proposed the addition of an icon in a speech at the UCLA School of Communications on May 30, this is the first time it is coming in an official setting, before President Clinton and representatives of the broadcasting industry.

As for its prospects, Duggan said that the broadcasters group headed by Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, had taken the matter "under advisement."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday July 30, 1996 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 3 Entertainment Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
PBS budget--Due to inaccurate information supplied by PBS, the network's budget for the fiscal year that ended June 30 was incorrectly reported in an article Monday. The PBS budget was $172 million.

Educational programming, Duggan insisted, can be "winsome, accessible and entertaining." At the same time, he humorously quoted broadcasters who feel the icon would amount to a turnoff to children--" 'Doesn't the word educational sound like spinach?' " and isn't it " 'the kiss of death?' "

Duggan declared that attitude to be flat-out wrong. "That is a myth," he said, pointing specifically to the entertainment and educational value of two recent additions to the PBS lineup--"Wishbone" and "Kratts' Kreatures."

In recent weeks, Duggan has also proposed giving commercial broadcasters credit for airing or sponsoring PBS children's programming, should the proposal for three hours per week of educational children's programming be agreed upon. However the Federal Communications Commission is currently stalemated on the issue, and it appears Duggan is not going to make the credit issue an immediate priority.

Meanwhile, as turnabout to public television's funding crises, Duggan asserted that he is now "optimistic" about PBS' financial future. Indeed, the network's budget increased from $167 million to $224.5 million for fiscal 1997, which began July 1. Duggan called it the largest increase in PBS' history, attributing it to various ventures with Turner, Disney and Readers Digest.

Meanwhile Kathy Quattrone, PBS' new chief programming executive, said that the amount available for programming, currently at $113 million, is expected to grow to $165 million by the year 2000.

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