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TV's Alright If You Watch the Right Stuff

May 11, 1997

I read with interest your coverage of the campaign to get families to turn off the TV for a week ("Will a TV Town Turn Off the Tube?" April 20), particularly noting some of the alternative activities offered to your readers. While parents should turn off the TV at times, we believe there's a better and more constructive alternative than arbitrarily turning off the set for an entire week. It's called critical viewing.

Quite simply, it's important to learn how to watch TV as well as to make smart decisions about what and when to watch. To that end, the cable industry has taken a leadership role with the National PTA on media literacy, creating the Family and Community Critical Viewing Project. This unique partnership offers parents and families easy-to-understand critical viewing skills through workshops conducted by local PTA and cable partners. Since the project's launch in October 1994, more than 15,000 parents, educators and community members have attended workshops held nationwide.

The latest element of the critical viewing project is the Taking Charge of Your TV video hosted by Rosie O'Donnell. The four-minute video is free ([800] 452-6351) and provides basic critical viewing skills and strategies families can use in their homes.

Turning off the television can be a useful tool for parents to avoid objectionable programming, but it doesn't help viewers get the most out of all the quality children's and family programming available. By using critical viewing techniques parents can open an important family dialogue, determine the strategies that make sense in their family settings and teach their children to watch television carefully and critically.

DECKER ANSTROM

President and CEO

National Cable Television Assn.

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