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Censorious cunt responsible for four decades of bad children's TV is finally dead

Peggy Charren, Children’s TV Crusader, Dies at 86

By BRUCE WEBERJAN. 22, 2015 Photo Peggy Charren in 1978. She was a founder and president of Action for Children’s Television. Credit Barbara Alper/Getty Images Continue reading the main story Share This Page

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Peggy Charren, whose advocacy of higher-minded television programming for children took the issue to government agencies and the halls of Congress and led to landmark legislation, died on Thursday at her home in Dedham, Mass. She was 86.

The precise cause was uncertain, but she had had vascular dementia for many years, her daughter Deborah Charren said.

An inveterate cajoler, persuader, petitioner, testifier, public speaker and letter writer, Ms. Charren was “the principal defender of children’s television in America” and “a conscience sitting on the shoulder of every commercial broadcaster,” Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat and a longtime friend of Ms. Charren’s, told The Boston Globe after her death.

She took up her crusade in the 1960s, when she was rearing two young daughters in a Boston suburb and was frustrated by what she saw on television for them — rampant advertising for toys and sugary cereals and, as she once put it, “wall-to-wall monster cartoons.”

Ms. Charren, an art and literature lover who had operated a gallery and run a business that held book fairs for children, was a founder and president of Action for Children’s Television, or ACT, whose first meeting was held in her Newton living room in 1968.

Seizing on a clause in the Federal Communications Act of 1934 that assigned broadcasters on the public airways a responsibility to tend to the public interest, ACT set about raising money and became a grass-roots force for change. The organization began pestering lawmakers, regulatory agencies and broadcast corporations to help educate children and not pander to them — to treat them as future contributors to society and not as just another consumer market.

The organization grew from a few women in a living room — they were typically referred to in early news reports as housewives — to a potent organization of more than 10,000 members.

By 1970, the group had won a petitioning campaign to reinstate “Captain Kangaroo” on a Boston station that had replaced it with another show. Members, all or nearly all women, met with the Federal Communications Commission and testified before the Senate subcommittee on communications.

Though they were rebuffed in their first attempts to meet with executives at NBC and ABC, they did get a meeting at CBS with the senior vice president for programming, Michael Dann. He told The New York Times that their suggestions were “among the most constructive and logical I have heard.”

Six months later, Mr. Dann resigned from CBS and took a 75 percent pay cut to become vice president of the Children’s Television Workshop, producers of a popular new show on public television called “Sesame Street.”

Led by Ms. Charren, ACT also persuaded the National Association of Broadcasters to reduce the amount of commercial time on children’s shows. It also persuaded networks to stop the practice of having children’s shows shill for the products of advertisers.

In 1974, the F.C.C. issued a Children’s Television Policy Statement, which made explicit the broadcasters’ responsibility to put “educational and informational” programming on the air.

The guidelines were not laws, however, and after Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, his distaste for regulation undid much of ACT’s progress. The Federal Trade Commission called a halt to an investigation, begun in 1978, into advertising on children’s television, and the F.C.C. stopped pushing for more quality programming for children.

“A marketplace approach simply doesn’t work for children,” Ms. Charren said in 1983. “Children’s television can never be profitable because most of the people who watch it are very short, very young and have very small allowances.”

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by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 2801/23/2015

She added: “Broadcasters will deliver as little service to children as they can get away with, because children are demographically unattractive to advertisers. During the ’70s, there was always at least the threat that if the networks didn’t do something for kids, the regulatory agencies would step in. Now, under Reagan, there isn’t even the threat.”

Ms. Charren’s calls for regulation drew criticism from some quarters. Animators, in particular, accused her of advocating censorship. She was adamant in her defense, however, saying that ACT never asked for a show to be taken off the air. When cable television began showing racier fare, she accepted that pornography was going to be available and promoted the idea that cable operators be required to provide users with lockout devices to block unwanted content. Her position was that there ought to be more programming, better programming and a diversification of it.

For Ms. Charren and ACT, the 1980s were an unending lobbying campaign that ended in victory. In 1990, Congress passed the Children’s Television Act, establishing standards for children’s television, limiting the number of advertising minutes permitted during a show, and mandating that stations document that they “served the educational and information needs of children” before they could have their licenses renewed.

Ms. Charren was born Peggy Sandelle Walzer on March 9, 1928, in Manhattan. Her father, Maxwell, was a furrier. Her mother, the former Ruth Rosenthal, was a pianist who gave up a potential concert career to raise a family.

Peggy graduated from Hunter College High School and, in 1949, Connecticut College in New London. She worked for a time in television, at WPIX in New York, before marrying Stanley Charren, a mechanical engineer who became an energy expert and entrepreneur, in 1951. They moved to Providence, R.I., where she opened an art gallery, and subsequently to the Boston area, where she started a company, Quality Book Fairs, that specialized in presentations for children.

Her initial ideas for improvements in children’s television involved putting books and the reading experience on the air.

“My mother loved books, and she loved libraries,” Deborah Charren said. “And she felt TV should be more like a library, with a variety of offerings.”

In addition to her daughter Deborah, Ms. Charren is survived by her husband; a sister, Barbara Korstvedt; another daughter, Claudia Moquin, known as Sandi; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

In 1991, the year after the Children’s Television Act was passed, Ms. Charren was given a Peabody Award for her public service. In 1995 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Bill Clinton. ACT dissolved in 1992.

“We’ve done what we set out to do,” Ms. Charren said at the time. “And it’s going to take some time to see if it’s working. This is something that the local communities should be doing. We don’t want laws mandating good programs or censorship. We want the communities to tell broadcasters what’s missing.”

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 101/23/2015

[quote]An inveterate cajoler, persuader, petitioner, testifier, public speaker and letter writer

In other words, a fucking NAG!!!

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 201/23/2015

She was terrific. She got ad time reduced on kids' TV and helped get shows like Mr Rogers and Sesame Street on the air. Reagan hated her and got rid of changes her group had made.

She campaigned for more kids tv that was educational and less ad time for toys and sugary cereal.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 301/23/2015

OP= freeper fundie cunt

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 401/23/2015

How do you know our patron St. Ronnie hated Mrs. Charren and her group?

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 501/23/2015

[quote]She was terrific. She got ad time reduced on kids' TV and helped get shows like Mr Rogers and Sesame Street on the air. Reagan hated her and got rid of changes her group had made. She campaigned for more kids tv that was educational and less ad time for toys and sugary cereal.

She's also responsible for the censorship of classic Warner Bros. and MGM cartoons on TV as well. Meanwhile, Mister Rogers opposed gay marriage, and for every [italic]Sesame Street[/italic], which Jim Henson feared would stigmatize him as a "kiddie show" producer for the rest of his days, there were two dozen pieces of puerile crap like [italic]The Get-Along Gang[/italic] made to appease these tongue-clicking frau tyrants. These shows encourage conformity and discourage independent thought in children. They will make you stupid if you watch them enough. And thanks to the Food Pyramid and HFCS-laden everything we still ended up with a generation of quasi-literate, fat, snarling man-children anyway (don't believe me, go to Comic-Con one of these days). And ad time on network TV has never been higher or more obnoxious than it is now, not just in kids' shows.

That Children's Television Act of 1990 is a joke. [italic]Saved by the Bell[/italic], one of the worst sitcoms ever by any credible standard of quality, gets an E/I rating. Meanwhile, Bugs Bunny taught me that guns and explosives can hurt you, Mickey Mouse taught me that not being an asshole has its perks, and Bart Simpson taught me that sometimes you should quit while you're ahead. I learned nothing from SBTB except how bad a bad kids' show can be.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 601/23/2015

Because I know how to read, R5. It's in the fucking article.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 701/23/2015

[quote]OP= freeper fundie cunt

I'm a dude and a militant gay atheist, R4. Try at least a little bit harder next time.

Meanwhile, the producer of [italic]Saved by the Bell[/italic], which the FCC has deemed educational television under the Children's Television Act of 1990, was very much a freeper fundie cunt:

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by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 801/23/2015

All of her efforts mentioned sound reasonable to me.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 901/23/2015

Me too.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 1001/23/2015

[quote]All of her efforts mentioned sound reasonable to me.

You must not have been a kid in the 1980s or 1990s. So many horrible shows, and most of them would fall within the boundaries of what the FCC, who spent decades keeping homosexuality off the air, considers appropriate for kids. Do you really want the same people responsible for NippleGate in charge of what either children or adults can and can't watch on TV?

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 1101/23/2015

"And thanks to the Food Pyramid and HFCS-laden everything we still ended up with a generation of quasi-literate, fat, snarling man-children anyway (don't believe me, go to Comic-Con one of these days)"

Yes, because comic con attendees represent everyone. You aren't very smart are you? This generation is smarter. It's old people like you who are stupid, anti-gay Republicans.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 1201/23/2015

Too bad I'm dead. My best "Learn with Mister Rogers" scripts ended up in a file cabinet because of this bitch.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 1301/23/2015

[quote]Saved by the Bell, one of the worst sitcoms ever by any credible standard of quality, gets an E/I rating.

Wtf does an E/I rating mean?

[And no, I'm not going to fucking google it! You're the ass who brought it up, you can fucking explain it!]

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 1401/23/2015

[quote]Mister Rogers opposed gay marriage

I believe he died long before the first ceremony (in MA) took place? Context, people, context.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 1501/23/2015

E/I = Educational/Informational

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 1601/23/2015

Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister who was so open and intelligently and sincerely ingenuous that to call him bisexual would be to miss the point. He embraced gay men intimately and had many gay friends who he wove into his personal married life - he did not separate the aspects of his life.

He did live at a time when the idea of gay marriage wasn't necessarily something in the minds of many gay people. We've all progressed, including gay people, on the subject. And I'm not aware that Fred ever expressed any opinion on it.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 1701/23/2015

Fred Rogers died in 2003.

Obama was against gay marriage in 2004.

Spare me your "I'm a staunch militant gay atheist" bullshit. You're the freeper who's been infesting this board with bullshit.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 1801/23/2015

OP is an awful person.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 1901/23/2015

I'm a staunch masculine, militant, atheist, liberal gay dude. I don't like Ted Cruz, but I do think Sean Hannity has a reasonable point

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 2001/23/2015

I'm a gay atheist militant who diesnt like Rush Limbaugh, but I think Rand Paul is a great guy who has good ideas

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 2101/23/2015

Was she the odious Mona Charren's mother?

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 2201/23/2015

I fail to see anything wrong with her group's efforts.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 2301/23/2015

Hardly, R22, since Mona's last name is Charen.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 2401/23/2015

She's responsible for four decades of the only good children's television on tv.

Anyone Reagan didn't like is ok by me.

And she did get fewer tv ads in children's programming and lowered the percentage of toy and sugary snack commercials. Of course, Reagan did away with ALL of that and kids tv went back to being a wasteland of violent garbage with constant ads for more garbage.

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 2501/23/2015

[quote]She's responsible for four decades of the only good children's television on tv.

Have you actually watched Saturday Morning cartoons from the 1970s? They don't hold up. Ugly, lazy animation, stupid scripts with bad morals, and the same actors doing the same voices over and over again. And then there were the shows ACT [bold]didn't[/bold] approve of. They approved of fucking [italic]Fat Albert[/italic], which, in hindsight, is unconscionable.

Animation started to get a lot better in the 1980s because the economy turned around, the budgets went up, and Disney got its shit together once Don Bluth became their competition. TV animation got even better still in the 1990s because they started making it for adults again. But don't thank Peggy Charren. Thank [italic]The Simpsons, Ren and Stimpy[/italic] and [italic]Beavis and Butt-head[/italic].

Peggy Charren was no better than Terry Rakolta, the right-wing Mormon frau who bitched about [italic]Married with Children[/italic], where I learned that the heterosexual agenda is a filthy lie and that MRAs are all pathetic losers. All of these moral crusaders are sanctimonious hypocrites. Because of people like this, they stripped the gay subtext out of Chip 'n' Dale cartoons with that [italic]Rescue Rangers[/italic] thing. They both are busybodies who have less regard for children's ability to tell bullshit from reality than advertisers and broadcasters.

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by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 2601/23/2015

She sounds like cartman's mother ^_^

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 2701/23/2015

It took Married With Children to show you that the heterosexual agenda was a filthy lie?

You mean you didn't grow up with a mother and father?

by Burn in Hell, bitchreply 2801/23/2015
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