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Keeping the faith on keeping little kids off reality TV

I know some of the regulars here were troubled earlier in the week by the fact that so little seemed to come out of the hearing in Pennsylvania on child labor laws and reality TV. The hearing was, of course, mostly about the Gosselins and "Jon & Kate Plus 8, " the reality TV show that aired on TLC before Jon Gosselin pulled the plug on his eight children being filmed.

I left the hearing behind because I had other stories to chase -- like Fox cancelling Sean Hannity's Tea Party in Cincinnati. But after having some time to think about the hearing, I believe it is important for me to weigh in on its outcome.

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And here are my two main thoughts: 1) The kind of change folks were hoping for does not happen overnight. 2) Some serious progress has been made in keeping kids out of the clutches of reality TV producers, and folks here should feel good about that.

Look, being realistic about the realpolitique of such state investigations, there is no way State of Pennsylvania investigators were going to deliver a ruling that said state investigators didn't do their job while TLC was filming the show. The state was essentially investigating its own lack of oversight while the filming took place, so why would anyone be surprised that what you got was essentially a whitewash on past acts?

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But two important things did happen with those hearings convened by Rep. Thomas Murt. First, the issue of whether or not it is harmful to children for them to be the subjects of reality TV shows has been formally framed and made part of a cultural debate. A year ago, most people weren't even considering the question -- they acted like it was automatically OK for kids to be in such shows.

And second, the state did say that TLC or anyone else who wants to film kids in the future in Pennsylvania will have to get permits. You know what that means in the real world? It means the Gosselin kids will never be filmed again in Pennsylvania.

No matter wshat kate Gosselin might be saying about resuming the show, I believe that the process of getting the permits and the scrutiny that will now follow will be too much for her and TLC to put with up. Those kids might be filmed again, but their mother will have to move them to another state to do so, and that will cause more publicity and scrutiny yet.

Those are two big victories. And I think some of the regulars at this blog should congratulate themselves for helping raise the public's consciousness on behalf of all children.

But what do you think -- agree or disagree. Maybe I am being Pollyannish.  But the kind of social change folks are looking for -- getting and keeping kids off reality TV shows -- does take time. Two key steps in that direction, though,  were taken in Pennsylvania this week.

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