TV is a big activity at child-care centers

January 07, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

Do you know what your preschooler is watching when you're not around?

That's the question PBS says parents should be asking about TV and child-care centers.

A recent survey commissioned by PBS of 214 child-care centers across the country found that TV has become a big part of the day at many centers.

Eighty-six percent of the child-care centers surveyed said they use TV, with 69 percent reporting that watching TV is among the "typical activities" for children at their facilities.

"The survey results suggest parents can stop wondering whether their children are watching TV at the child-care center and, hopefully, focus instead on the truly important questions: What are my kids watching, and how are those programs being used?" said Alice Cahn, director of children's programming for PBS.

The survey was conducted by SRI, a New Jersey-based research firm that specializes in surveys of media audiences.

The survey is reported to be the first attempt by any research firm to measure TV viewing by children under age 6 outside the home.

Barney nips at Bird's heels

On the subject of PBS and kids' TV, Big Bird is still No. 1 in the ratings, but Barney is closing in fast.

For the year, "Sesame Street" is averaging an audience of 6.3 million viewers a week. Barney is at 6 million. The next nearest is "Mr. Rogers" at 3.6 million.

'I'll Fly' soared in ratings

"I'll Fly Away: Then and Now," the movie PBS made to bring closure to the series NBC canceled, was the highest-rated show of the entire fall season for public television.

It scored a 6.1 rating (about 6 million viewers), making it the second-highest-rated drama ever on PBS.

"Death of a Princess," which aired in 1980, is the highest-rated drama, with a 9.2 rating. By way of comparison, "The Civil War" scored an 8.8 rating when it first aired.

The runners-up to "I'll Fly Away" in the PBS ratings were: "The Nature of Sex," "The Great Depression," "Psychics" on "NOVA," and "Who Shot President Kennedy?" on "NOVA."

No food fights on 'Week'

Look for some changes in "Washington Week in Review" when new host Ken Bode takes over for Paul Duke on March 11.

At a press conference in Pasadena, Calif., yesterday, Bode said he was considering using videotaped segments and trying to inject more give-and-take among the panelists, for example.

But he promised the show would not go the way of the more raucous talk shows, such as "The McLaughlin Group."

"I would be inclined not to have a journalistic food fight," Bode said.

Ken Burns, play ball!

PBS has finally set an airdate for Ken Burns' much-publicized documentary, "Baseball." The 20-hour epic will air for two weeks in September as counterprogramming of the commercial networks' fall season premieres.

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