activist group, Action for Children's Television (A.C.T.) was founded
by Peggy Charren and a group of "housewives and mothers" in her
home in Newton, Massachusetts in 1968. The members of A.C.T. were
initially concerned with the lack of quality television programming
offered to children. In 1970 A.C.T. petitioned the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) asking that television stations be required to
provide more programming for the child viewer. In that year the
organization also received its first funding from the John and Mary
R. Markle Foundation. A.C.T. later received funding from the Ford
and Carnegie Foundations as well, grants which allowed the group
to expand from volunteers to between 12 and 15 staff members at
the height of its activity.
A.C.T. was not
generally viewed as a "radical right-wing group" advocating censorship.
According to Charren, "too many people who worry about children's
media want to do it in. A.C.T. was violently opposed to censorship."
Partially due to this attitude, the group was able to gain support
from members of the public and from many politicians.
became concerned with issues of advertising within children's programming.
Of particular concern was their finding that one-third of all commercials
aimed at children were for vitamins. Partially due to their efforts,
the FCC enacted rules pertaining to program length commercials,
host selling, and the placement of separation devices between commercials
and children's programming.
A.C.T. was responsible
for many cases brought before the courts in regard to the FCC and
its policies concerning children's television. These cases include
a major case in media law, Action for Children's Television, et
al. v. Federal Communications Commission and the United States of
America (821. F. 2d 741. D.C. Cir. 1987).
of the major successes of A.C.T. was the passage of the Children's
Television Act of 1990. Shortly after the passage of this act, Charren
announced the closing of Action for Children's Television, suggesting
that it was now up to individual citizens' groups to police the
airwaves. In recent years Charren, a strong supporter of the First
Amendment, has fought against FCC regulations limiting "safe harbor"
Photo courtesy of Peggy Charren
C., and R. Krock. Rocking the Boat: Celebrating 15 Years of Action
for Children's Television. Newtonville, Massachusetts: Action
for Children's Television, 1983.
B. G., and M. Oettinger. Reluctant Regulators: The FCC and the
Broadcast Audience. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.
Roger Dean. "Rhetoric of the Kidvid Movement: Ideology, Strategies,
and Tactics." Central States Speech Journal (West Lafayette,
Indiana), Summer 1976.
also Activist Television;