Action for Children's Television, which for 23 years fought for better TV programming for children, will go out of business by the end of the year, president Peggy Charren announced yesterday.
The organization, which Charren founded in her Cambridge, Mass., living room, is closing up because it achieved one of its main goals with the passage of the 1990 Children's Television Act, whose guidelines took effect Jan. 1, 1992.
The new law limits the number of ads broadcasters may run in children's shows and requires local stations to air educational programs in order to get their licenses renewed.
"Choice is the name of the game," Charren said. "You can turn off what you don't like, but you can't turn on what's missing."
"We finally got the law to work for children," she said. "In return for a license, every broadcaster has to serve the public interest, [but until the new law] children were not perceived as part of the public."
To enforce the law, ACT pulled together a coalition of parents, teachers and pediatricians, including the National PTA and the American Academy of Pediatrics, who will put pressure on local stations and carry on ACT's work.
"It has to be the audience that says 'Our kids are entitled now to some education programming,'" Charren said. "We feel that, rather than break open the champagne at our going out of existence, the nation's broadcasters now should get even more worried, because there will be even more activists out there."
Charren, mother of two grown children, said that while proud of the attention she was able to focus on good programs, she regrets it took "23 years to get to this point," and wishes that "the face of children's television looked a little more delightful."