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Statement by Tim Winter

Executive Director of the Parents Television Council


In Support of

TiVo's "KidZone" Product Announcement

New York City, March 2, 2006 


Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Tim Winter, and I am the executive director of the Parents Television Council; the nation's most influential advocacy organization protecting children from graphic sex, violence and profanity in the media. On behalf of the more than one million members of the PTC, it is an honor and a pleasure to be here with you today in support of TiVo's new service, called KidZone.


Last year I received a phone call from TiVo's President and CEO, Tom Rogers. Tom told me that TiVo was developing an exciting new feature that would help parents protect their children from harmful and offensive programming, and that he would like the PTC opinion on the product specifications.


I will be honest; I was skeptical. Skeptical because I've seen the V-chip and channel-blocking technologies offered by the broadcast and cable industries. Skeptical because the V-chip is based on a ratings system which most parents don't understand. Skeptical because a television program's rating is determined by the TV network rather than by parents, and the network is financially motivated to under-rate a program because advertisers might not sponsor it if rated as violent or sexually explicit. Skeptical because, as the PTC proved in a research paper last year, the television ratings system is inaccurate much – if not most – of the time. Skeptical because the industry has used the V-chip as a "Trojan Horse" by which to broadcast even more violent and sexually explicit programming because, hey, they warned us.


So yes, I was skeptical. But I've known Tom for a long time and I give great deference to his business instincts. So I paid a visit to the TiVo offices in Alviso, California to learn more about KidZone. And I was very impressed with what I saw.


With KidZone, parents will be able to manage the media consumption of their children in a way that reflects their values, not Hollywood's values. I need to explain why this is so important.


As I stand here today – at this very moment – a press conference is being held in Washington DC announcing the release of the PTC's most recent study, Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: A Content Analysis of Children's Television. I have copies of that study here with me, and I encourage you to take one. Our study addresses the content of over 400 hours of commercial television programming produced for – and marketed directly to – young children. Kids networks like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, and Saturday morning programs on the broadcast networks.


The results of our investigation shocked even us. Violence, bullying, name calling, bathroom humor, and even sexual references are the over-arching themes present in the landscape of contemporary children's television. And when I say violence, I don't just mean the ‘Wile E. Coyote dropping an Acme anvil on the Road Runner' kind of violence. I mean realistic, graphic violence, most of which airs without the proper TV Content Rating. Echoing the words of Harvard Medical School's Dr. Michael Rich, who is participating at our press conference in Washington today, remember that children under the age of 8 years are developmentally incapable of making a clear distinction between fantasy and reality.


This is a critical mental health issue for our children.


With KidZone, a parent has the ability to filter harmful and offensive programs which, tragically, many networks are directly, overtly, marketing to small children. With KidZone, a child can record and view only material that a parent has determined meets their family standards. And with KidZone, broadcasters cannot hide behind the sham that their current content rating system truly is.


We congratulate TiVo for developing this exciting new feature, and we look forward to reviewing the final consumer product. Once we complete our formal product review, we hope to present TiVo with the PTC's Seal of Approval, to provide a reliable source of program information, and to help them reach out to consumers who will want this product.


Thank you.




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