New 24-hour, all-infant channel is so wrong in so many ways

Just when I thought I’d seen it all comes news that a new, 24-hour network for infantsis launching next Thursday. Called "BabyfirstTV," the channel will initially be available via satellite TV and, later, mainstream cable. Despite vehement protestations from such august groups as the American Academy of Pediatrics that babies should absolutely not be exposed to the boob tube, BabyfirstTV executives say the content will be "safe, commercial free and appropriate."

Well, gag me with a pacifier. This is so perverse, so bogus and so obviously driven by marketers who want to exploit yet another market segment that it absolutely boggles the mind. What’s next? An all Alzheimer’s channel? A 24-hour network for quadraplegics?

I can just imagine the programming on BabyfirstTV. There’s probably the "Tot Today Show" with Baby Katie and Baby Matt, "All My Infants," a searing soap opera that explores the increasingly complicated interpersonal relationships of today’s babies and "ESPNatal," which covers baby races, baby boxing and , of course, baby poker matches.

Can you imagine the dialogue on the "Tot Today Show?"

Baby Katie: "Well our guest today is Baby Louise, who has started a cosmetic line for infants. Baby Louise, welcome. So tell us, why are cosmetics so important for baby girls?

Baby Louise: "I don’t know about you Baby Katie, but I was mortified to see the videos of my birth. No eyeliner, rouge or anything. I mean, I was hideous. Absolutely hideous. And, I’m still dealing with the emotional scars of that so-called special moment. Baby Katie, looking good for baby girls is no longer an option, it’s an essential."

And so on and so forth. FirstbabyTV has to win awards for being the most insidious marketing idea of the year. Here’s hoping babies vote their displeasure by simply channel surfing to something more appropriate, say, Sesame Street, for example.

21 thoughts on “New 24-hour, all-infant channel is so wrong in so many ways

  1. Hi,
    I have never visited this blog, but I was looking for the Babyfirsttv web site and got here and started reading,
    I have a one year old, and am subscriber of DIRECTV, I have to tell u my daughter loved it and so did I, they have subtitles that truly helped me work with her, I think its very different then regular TV, and recommend u try it, I do agree that to much TV is not good however

  2. It’s great that we can all have a spirited debate on a wide variety of topics and issues. That’s what a blog is all about. However, lately, some of the content posted to this blog has involved personal attacks and comments that are highly inappropriate. This is not what this blog is intended for and this type of behavior will not be tolerated moving forward.
    Let’s stick to debating the merit of each topic and not get mired in personal attacks. We don’t all need to agree with each other, but we do need to refrain from going personal.
    Thanks for your cooperation.

  3. Good to see that the action is as hot as ever on Rep’s site.
    I-man – Steve did mention that shows like Seasame Street are acceptable (I’ll assume he means in moderation) in his blog, so leave Lunch Truck, Davey and everyone else alone on that one.
    Speaking of said show, I can’t make up my mind who you would would be if you came to life as one of the characters on the show:
    Oscar the Grouch – front runner…
    Cookie Monster – a close second…
    Oh wait…what about:
    Snuffalufagus. Why? Well, he was the creature that only one of the cast members, Big Bird, ever saw or spoke to. While I would feel bad for BB, at least everyone else would have some peace and quiet.
    Today’s key word: moderation. Let’s all employ some. I promist I will…off to AC and the beach.
    Have a good weekend.

  4. All,
    I must side with Peppercom on this one. However, it seems that permitting your child to watch educational, interactive TV programs on a limited, supervised won’t do much harm.
    While a bit off topic, I think there’s a bigger issue – entrusting non-family members (some of whom are foreign adults) to supervise and interact with your children while you’re away. As a parent, which I’m not, it all comes down to personal preference I guess.

  5. 25-30 years ago (before it was common) I restricted my sons TV viewing to 30 minutes a day and they really didn’t care because they had plenty of other stimulating and healthy activities to fill their time. They have been voracious readers all their lives and choose TV very selectively. (One doesn’t even own a TV.) One graduated cum laude from Colgate and was accepted at Georgetown Law; the other is studying for his master’s in geology and geophysics. My guess is Jackie’s kids will have similar futures and yours will sell bandaids.

  6. Jackie-
    First off, I absolutely agree that there are sponsors, but I don’t think PBS is making money off of it, they are covering their expenses. Second, you yourself just said “funding educational TV.” That is my point, that the right amount of TV and the right content can be educational!
    In terms of your son, I must commend you and your husband on that. That is a great accomplishment that most of us don’t do. By the way, my son watches his fair share of TV and excels in school. I think that proves that every child is unique and has different needs. I think you will agree that there is no cookie-cutter on how to raise a child. Sure, there are recommended guidelines, but slight deviations are important as a “textbook” can’t raise a child. Would you agree with that?

  7. I-Man:
    If you believe that commercial-free means non-commercial, you are deluded. Have you ever watched PBS? While there are no “commercials,” each program is preceded by a 60 second “promo” of the show’s sponsor (usually McDonalds or some sugary cereal). While I applaud corporate America for funding educational TV, you must agree that they are getting major brand exposure for their dollars.
    And no, my son did not watch any TV before the age of 2 and is now limited to 30 minutes a day. As a result, he rarely watches any at all.

  8. Lunch Fool-
    Apparently you have no clue how to read b/c the Pcom crew is saying TV is Satan. I am the one who says TV should be delivered in moderation. So I guess you are agreeing with me, aren’t you?

  9. Jackie-
    You wrote a well educated response so I will respond in the same manner. As an aside, my son’s weight is in the 5th percentile of children his age, so if anything, he has to gain weight.
    In terms of your response, again, I AGREE that too much TV is bad. Like you said, TOO MUCH TV is linked to problems. My point was that if a young child is going to watch TV, it is a fabulous idea to have them watch programming that is age appropriate. How can anyone not agree with that statement. I know you have young children and I would be shocked if you told me that before the age of two they never watched TV. If that is the case then you and your husband are excellent parents and should be commended for that. But I highly doubt that the TV hasn’t gone on in your household before the age of 2.
    That said, again, this issue is not about the pros and cons of TV watching for youngsters, it is about a marketing idea that seemingly provides age appropriate content. And, let’s not dismiss the fact that this is commercial free. That alone tells me that this is not some business idea to make millions, but is about filling a void.

  10. Lunch boy weighing in…
    I am going to have to side with the team from Peppercom (a firm I have not worked at, btw, Gauze boy).
    Like evertyhing else, TV should be delivered in moderation. Ask yourself this, would you rather throw on a Winnie the Pooh DVD or sit down with your child and read them a chapter from the book? You tell me which is better.
    If you answer with the DVD option becuase you’re too busy doing something else, well, you’re not cut out for parenthood, bub.
    Lunch boy.

  11. I-Man
    You are wrong, wrong, wrong. The potential negative implications of kids watching TV far outweigh any benefits. TV promotes a sedentary lifestyle and inhibits creativity in children. Obesity rates among children are skyrocketing, why? Because they spend too much time in front of the TV looking a commercials for McDonalds and Trix cereal. While your son may be testing at a 2nd grade math level, I have to wonder what he weighs.
    Studies have shown that children who watch too much TV are hindered in their ability to play creatively and will simply act out what they see on TV. Additionally, there are some studies that link TV to the increased rates of autism in children.
    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends ZERO TV for children under the age of two. If your pediatrician recommended that your child take vitamins, you would do it. Why is this any different?

  12. I most assuredly am not. May I add you are the saddest combination of anger and imbecility I have ever known.

  13. grace, u must be with the uk office of peppercom. if that is the case, i see you really fulfilled all of your potential….your parents must be sooooooo proud of you! (on this side of the pond, that is called sarcasm).

  14. RepMan: I agree with you but there is one exception. This Medical Guy’s children are FAR better off sitting in front of the telly than spending time with him. Best thing he can do for them is let someone (or something) else raise them.

  15. rep-
    once again you completely missed my point. sure there are studies about parents who park their kids in front of the TV, but i never said to park a kid in front of the TV. there is a big difference between “parking a kid” and allowing them to watch a show or two that is educational. my point was that if kids are going to watch a show or two, then it should be content that is fitting for them and educational, and that is why this is a great idea. otherwise the option is allowing them to watch shows for older kids.
    since you made a comment about my parenting skills “There are all sorts of academic studies to show that parents like you are doing major damage to their tots” let me once again disprove you. My 5 year old in Pre-Kindergarten (who watches mostly educational shows) just tested on a 2nd grade math level and a first grade reading level, and a majority of that came from shows he watched, in which he picked up concepts and understanding of each area. So once again, your uninformed opinion is wrong.
    Finally, I would agree that if as an I-Boy i spent time watching TV, it probably was a waste of time, which is why this idea is so great. 30 years ago, there wasn’t programming devoted to infant development, today thankfully there will be.

  16. I-man, you are one angry, hostile human being. There are all sorts of academic studies to show that parents like you are doing major damage to their tots by parking them in front of television sets and letting the TV’s serve as the baby sitter, parent and teacher. Part of the reason so many college graduates today are such poor writers is precisely because they grew up in front of the TV set and the computer, and didn’tread books. Kids need parental supervision. they also deparately need to learn to read early in their lives so it becomes a habit for life. That’s not 1975 thinking, I-man. It’s 2006 thinking. And it’s also a reason why you’re not penning articles, giving speeches or writing books. Someone must have parked “I-boy” in front of a TV screen about 20 years ago and let you “veg out” on god knows what mindless sitcom of the day….

  17. Rep-
    You really seem to have lost it, as now you are taking your anger out on the young ones (well sort of). My issue with this blog of yours today is that you blogging as an expert on a topic that is not a part of your life and that hasn’t been for many years.
    However, as a parent of two young children myself, and having many friends with young children, I know that TV is a part of their life. I’m sure every “perfect parent” in America thinks that TV is so bad, but it is only bad if used the wrong way. I don’t know of a single parent that doesn’t let their young child watch TV, including infants. The fact is that young children wacth TV and this is a great idea if the “programming” is appropriate. By appropriate, I mean things like “Little Einstein Series” videos that show colors, shapes and have classical music in the background, which has been proven to stimulate the minds of infants and help with brain development.
    Your mockery of the Tot Today Show and the ESPNatal just shows how little you know about what is going on with infants today and while you tried to use to prove your point, only discredits you even more on this subject. As you told me in a previous reply, your points are dead on (for 1975).