- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Parents Television Council, while still lamenting the TV industry’s “apparent race to the bottom,” singled out several companies for praise in 2007 after they pulled advertisements from shows marked by sex, violence or profanity.

The Los Angeles-based group, which promotes family-friendly programming, regularly contacts sponsors whose ads appear on shows that it identifies as inappropriate for children.

“Television sponsors contribute to the television culture, either in a positive or negative way, by choosing which programs they support with their advertising dollars,” said PTC President Tim Winter. “We hope that in 2008, companies will pay closer attention to how their ad dollars are being spent.”

The group cited 15 companies that either stopped running ads or said they would review ad choices on certain shows.

BMW of North America in November said it would no longer support “Nip/Tuck,” a risque show that appears Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on cable network FX. Similarly contacted by the PTC for advertising during the show, Verizon told the group it was ending its sponsorship.

The PTC said it received a commitment from Cadbury Adams to preview content before running ads on Fox cartoon programs “Family Guy” and “American Dad.” Michelin likewise said it will now review plot summaries of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” before making media commitments.

RCN cries foul over NFL simulcast

Herndon communications company RCN Corp. isn’t too pleased with the National Football League’s decision to simulcast Saturday’s game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants on NBC and CBS. RCN, which is among several video providers that have a contract with the NFL Network, said the simulcast devalues the deal, and as a result, the firm is “considering our options.”

“We paid extra for the right to carry this historic game as well as the other games throughout the season,” spokesman Richard Ramlall said. “In effect, the NFL Network is making RCN customers pay extra for what others are getting for free. It’s unprecedented that the NFL Network has decided to alter a signed contract without negotiation or consideration of the other parties.”

In announcing the league’s decision last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell justified the decision, saying it was “in the best interest of our fans.”

Characters on NPR

National Public Radio today begins a new series dedicated to examining classic fictional characters. For six months, “In Character” will highlight well-known figures — Bugs Bunny, Lassie, Holden Caulfield and the Lone Ranger, to name a few — and will air across all NPR News programs.

The series will look at the origins of the character and its impact on American life. NPR came up with an initial list of subjects based on input from teachers, playwrights, critics and journalists. Listeners are invited to make suggestions for future characters by submitting a 150-word essay via NPR.org.

“Whether we are profiling a hero or villain, a sidekick or a rabbit, we hope each segment will offer insight into each character’s spirit and, in turn, teach us something about ourselves,” said Elizabeth Blair, senior producer for the Arts and Information Desk of NPR News.

Channel Surfing runs Wednesdays. E-mail krowland@washingtontimes.com.

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