Advertisers Promote Family-friendly Television
CINCINNATI—If you are embarrassed while watching television
with your family because of the increased amount of sex and violence, help is
on the way from a group of over 40 advertisers. Robert Wehling, global marketing
and government relations officer at Proctor & Gamble Company, and Andrea
Alstrup, vice president of advertising at Johnson & Johnson, spearheaded
the development of the Family Friendly Programming Forum. The Forum has financed
the script development for programs that attract a multigenerational audience.
WB’s highly praised Gilmore Girls is one of its first success stories.
Assistant Editor Mary Jo Dangel’s interview with Bob Wehling in
the August issue of St.
Anthony Messenger explains what the Forum is doing and
what viewers can do. The story can also be found at: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org.
Wehling, the father of six, credits a speech he heard Alstrup
give to a group of advertisers in 1998 for sparking the formation
of the Forum. Alstrup said, “As a mother myself, I am embarrassed
and outraged by a lot of what I see in the media...the environment
in which a message runs is part of the message.” By the end of
1999, 36 companies had joined the Forum including Coca-Cola, Ford,
IBM, Nestlé, Sears and Wendy’s.
Wehling explains that WB was the first network to join
in the Forum’s script-development initiative. Jamie Kellner, CEO of the WB,
says that the first year “yielded a number of high-quality, family-friendly
scripts, three pilots and one series, Gilmore Girls, which television
critics call the best new show of the season.” During the past year, ABC, CBS
and NBC have also joined this initiative.
In addition to funding the development of family-friendly
scripts for new series, the Forum honors existing programs with Family Television
Awards. Past winners include Touched by an Angel, The Wonderful World
of Disney and The West Wing. This year’s ceremony is scheduled for
“We’ve told everybody we’re in this for the long term,” emphasizes
Wehling. “The problem didn’t get created overnight; the solution won’t happen
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