Television stations across the state will get report cards beginning early next year grading how well they have implemented the federal Children's Television Act of 1990, as part of a new Maryland Campaign for Kids' TV.
Launched in Baltimore last night with a preview screening of tonight's PBS program "On Television: Teach the Children" (at 9 p.m., Maryland Public Television), the campaign also plans to publish a guide to help parents develop responsible viewing in their children.
"Television is too pervasive to just say you're going to censor it," said Charlene Uhl, coordinator of the community-based project. Instead, she sees the new organization as "helping develop standards to guide the development of programming in the future."
Maryland is the first state to respond to the Children's Television Act with such an organized effort to monitor and work with broadcasters, she said.
The 1990 congressional legislation, which followed a decade of lobbying by child advocacy groups, restored limits on advertising time during programs aimed at children 12 and younger. The act permits no more than 10 1/2 minutes of commercials per hour on weekends and no more than 12 minutes on weekdays.
It also requires the Federal Communications Commission to consider a broadcaster's record in providing educational and informational programming for children when the station's license comes up for renewal.
The Campaign for Kids TV, said Ms. Uhl, foresees regular six-month and 12-month report cards on local broadcasters' performance. Grass-roots organizations to be established in four areas -- the Baltimore region, suburban Washington, Hagerstown/Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore -- will attempt to work with television stations.
Tonight's PBS program, with host CBS newsman Edwin Newman, is the third in a series of serious studies of the effect of television on our culture. It reviews the medium's role as a fundamental teaching force for children.
Individuals or organizations interested in the Campaign for Kids' TV can call the organization at (410) 547-9200.