A healthy and balanced diet of television and Internet content can be a positive, educational force in children's lives, yet media consumption should be measured with tools such as those provided by the cable industry, NCTA President & CEO Robert Sachs today told the Cable Television Public Affairs Association's Forum 2001. "Denying children TV is no more likely to encourage kids to enjoy reading, for instance, than denying kids ice cream would encourage them to like brussels sprouts," Sachs told the Washington, D.C. gathering of 250 cable public affairs professionals.

Sachs' speech lauded the intentions of "TV Turnoff Week," to encourage "kids to read and play sports and do all the other things that healthy children do." He questioned, however, the value of excluding an entire medium that offers so much educational and high-quality programming. Just this week, for example, the American Writers series on C-SPAN has James Fenimore Cooper as its featured writer. HBO will air a family special on the artist Francisco Jose de Goya. And MTV is re-telecasting "Anatomy of a Hate Crime: The Mathew Shepard Murder," its thoughtful documentary that launched the network's yearlong effort to fight hate crimes through education. “This is just a small sampling of what's on cable this week - on 'TV Turnoff week,'" Sachs said.

"The key word is selective. Kids need to learn to be selective about what they watch on TV and what they access on the Internet. Parents need to be actively involved in guiding them," Sachs added. "And nobody is doing more than the cable industry to make these two things happen."

Sachs highlighted Cable in the Classroom media literacy initiatives for both television and the Internet. Cable in the Classroom has facilitated the delivery of more than 540 hours of commercial-free programming each month to classrooms throughout the country as well as the provision of free high speed Internet and cable connections for schools and libraries. Cable in the Classroom was launched as a not-for-profit organization by the cable industry in 1989.

In partnership with the National PTA, Cable in the Classroom runs "Taking Charge of Your TV" media literacy workshops all over the country for parents and teachers, where professional leaders teach the art of critical viewing. The workshops encourage families to discuss TV content with their kids, teaching them to be aware of what they’re watching and to be critical thinkers about what they see and hear, Sachs explained.

During the month of April alone, more than a dozen "Taking Charge" workshops were conducted across the United States. "There will always be those who maintain that television and education are natural adversaries, when if fact, with a little encouragement on both sides, they can be powerful allies," Sachs said.

Cable in the Classroom is also breaking new ground in cyber-literacy with its on-line program "Take Your Parents to Cyber-School." Web-savvy kids are encouraged to go online with their parents and learn to avoid the exploitative and find the Internet's treasures. "Cable in the Classroom is using the Internet to connect the curiosity of kids with the creativity of cable TV," Sachs noted. "This is a powerful combination."

Aside from the industry's collective effort, cable networks and cable operators individually have made commitments to education and public affairs with their programming and initiatives, Sachs noted in his speech. "The creativity and technology that the cable industry brings to schools is one of the great success stories of American education," Sachs included.

NCTA is the principal trade association of the cable industry in the United States, representing cable operators serving more than 90 percent of the nation's cable television households. It also represents more than 100 cable program networks as well as equipment suppliers and providers of other services to the cable industry. (www.ncta.com).

Attached is a list of Family-Friendly and/or Educational Cable Programming that will air April 23-29, 2001.

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