I just received this alert from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood:
BusRadio, which hopes to "take targeted student marketing to the next level" by forcing children to listen to its commercialized radio broadcasts on school buses, has sunk to a new low. The company is advertising the highly sexualized new television show 90210 on BusRadio.com, its website for children as young as six.
BusRadio.com - the company's website for students that is promoted throughout BusRadio's broadcasts on elementary, middle, and high buses - is urging children to tune in to tonight's premiere of 90210, a show that the CW Network calls a "sexier" and "more provocative" update on the popular series from the nineties.  A trailer for the show on the BusRadio website teases several sex scenes, while a banner ad featuring the stars of the show in sexualized poses links to the show's website. The show is exploiting preteens "currently smitten with Hannah Montana and the Jonas Bros" through merchandise such as backpacks, school supplies, and clothing.
 Media reports also suggest the show will feature a significant amount of product placement.
BusRadio sells itself to school districts as an age-appropriate alternative to FM radio, but the company's definition of "age-appropriate" frequently differs from that of parents. Seminole County, Florida recently terminated their relationship with BusRadio when the company refused to stop playing songs from albums with parental warnings for explicit lyrics and content. Advertisers on BusRadio's elementary school broadcasts include the highly sexualized Bratz brand. Another elementary school advertiser, Answers.com, tells students to do their homework by looking up their answers on the Internet and mocks a student for carrying around books. BusRadio broadcasts encourage young students to visit its BusRadio.com website where inappropriate media, including Mature-rated video games and now 90120, are promoted.
We believe no child should be held captive by BusRadio and we will continue to organize parents and educators around the country to keep advertising off of school buses. But we also think it is important to protect those students who are unfortunate enough to ride buses with BusRadio from this kind of sexualized advertising.
The council's ruling aims to prevent the development of such programming on French channels. It also orders French cable operators that air foreign channels with programs for babies to broadcast warning messages to parents. The messages will read: "Watching television can slow the development of children under 3, even when it involves channels aimed specifically at them."
The ruling cites health experts as saying that interaction with other people is crucial to early child development.
"Television viewing hurts the development of children under 3 years old and poses a certain number of risks, encouraging passivity, slow language acquisition, over-excitedness, troubles with sleep and concentration as well as dependence on screens," the ruling said.
When BabyFirstTV first aired in the United States in 2006, it escalated an already heated national debate. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said babies should be kept away from television altogether.
The verdict has been handed down—CBS will face no penalty after MTV thumbed its nose at parents during the 2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently threw out a $550,000 fine the Federal Communications Commission levied against CBS after Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” exposed her breast to over 90 million halftime viewers—many of whom were children.
“The last thing a parent expects to see when they sit down with their family to watch the Super Bowl is a strip tease,” said Rick Schatz, president and CEO of the National Coalition. “The Super Bowl has long been a family event that is enjoyed by viewers of all ages. To feature a halftime show that includes nudity and lewd behavior is unconscionable.”
While the half a million complaints received by the FCC after the Super Bowl demonstrated viewers’ disgust, the Third Circuit opened the door to future indecent programming.
“Unfortunately, this ruling will likely set a precedent that will negatively affect the quality of future entertainment on broadcast television,” added Schatz. “Parents must be more vigilant than ever in monitoring the shows viewed in their household.”
Although this ruling is a disappointment, a legislative response is in motion. Senator Jay Rockefeller has introduced the Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act (Senate Bill 1780), which would allow single words or images that are considered to be indecent, obscene, or profane to draw civil penalties.
To help pass this legislation, we ask you to do three things:
In case you don’t know it already, many parents are feeling inundated by an array of media that are flooding their children’s minds with inappropriate material. Too many parents feel like they are losing control, and they’re frustrated by a seemingly relentless march of coarse material that is too violent, too sexual, too commercial or too unhealthy for their children. Messages or images their children are not ready to hear pop up in too many places for parents to easily control, from insensitively timed commercials during otherwise family-friendly programming to Internet ads and spam coming over the computer.
There is growing concern about unhealthful messages and images as well. . . . Many studies show the damaging effects of advertising on children’s food choices. Some of your companies have taken important steps, but there is far more to be done.
For parents, it’s like a game of whack-a-mole, with an increasing number of moles jumping up faster and faster. Too many parents suffer from a sense of exhaustion or futility. I suspect many of you share these concerns on a personal level, but many of you also work for powerful media companies that are helping this mole population to proliferate. . . .
I believe I speak for millions of parents when I say we’re overwhelmed, fed up and looking for help from the government and the industry alike.
Burger King Iron Man toy giveaways for preschoolers.
Indiana Jones Lunchables.
Incredible Hulk toys for children as young as three.
The Dark Knight Cheerios.
This summer’s violent PG-13 blockbusters are being marketed to young children.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) could stop this onslaught but they won’t. The Federal Trade Commission has urged the MPAA to develop an “explicit policy, incorporating objective criteria” to “ensure that PG-13 movies are not marketed in a manner inconsistent with their rating,” but the MPAA has refused.
Please take a moment to visit this link to tell the MPAA to stop the marketing of violent PG-13 films to young children.
Such intense interest among underage fashionistas poses a knotty problem for New Line. The studios have long had to maneuver carefully when it comes to R-rated movies, which require adult accompaniment for moviegoers under 17, though the rule isn't always enforced. Usually, the concern is about kids trying to sneak into movies drenched with sex, like "American Pie," or violence, as in "The Matrix."
But the issue grew more serious after a Federal Trade Commission report in 2000 accused Hollywood studios of inappropriately marketing adult content to children. The studios vowed to clean up their act after being forced to defend incidents in which they test-marketed R-rated films to 9-year-olds and distributed promotional materials for the films to youth groups. At that time, Time Warner's Warner Bros., which absorbed New Line this year, pledged not to show ads for R-rated movies during any programming where about 35% of the audience was under 17 years old.
Today, New Line says that it's not marketing "Sex and the City" to teens and that advance research shows that less than 5% of the interested audience is under 17. The studio did, however, purchase ad time for "Sex and the City" on TV programs that turned out to have substantial teen audiences, including some in which more than 35% of the viewers are 17 or under, according to Nielsen Co.
For example, numerous ads for the movie have run during CW's "Gossip Girl," which had an under-18 audience of about 23% this spring, and MTV's "My Super Sweet 16," with about 40%. According to TNS Media Intelligence, 18 "Sex and the City" commercials have run during MTV's series "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila" -- where about 40% of the audience is under 18 -- in recent weeks. Studios often argue that buying time on such programs is necessary in order to reach the 18 to 24-year-old demographic.
Dodging such issues is one reason that many summer movies set out to win a PG-13 rating, giving them a shot at a wider audience. Other films carrying R ratings this summer include the comedies "Tropic Thunder" and "The Pineapple Express," the Angelina Jolie action movie "Wanted" and the M. Night Shyamalan thriller "The Happening."
The teen interest in "Sex and the City " is somewhat surprising because the $60 million film focuses on the "Sex" foursome's move into their 40s -- and in one case 50s -- facing problems with marriage, infidelity and starting a family. According to a former HBO executive, in its early stages of development, the film was jokingly referred to as "Menopause in the City."
The article continues:
"Sixteen is the new 20," adds Shelley Zalis, CEO of OTX, a consumer research firm that tracks film demographics. "Sixteen-year-olds want to see films with more adult subject matter. There are a whole new bunch of movies that really hit a teen audience that might not be expected to."
"Sex and the City" is also getting buzz from publicity that falls outside the marketing campaign. On Condé Nast's teen-oriented ym.com Thursday, the film was featured prominently, and a discussion thread about summer movies was spiked with comments about the film, including one that read: "I wanna see the Sex and the City movie," and another that read: "I was never HUGE on the show because I was still younger when it was on ... but I watch it pretty often now on repeats."
Melissa Benjamin, a 16-year-old from Chappaqua, N.Y., says that her three best friends got advance tickets to see the movie Friday because they watched the show for hours in middle school. "We'd come home at 3:30 p.m. and watch until 9 o'clock on HBO on Demand," she says. "We'd like to say which character we all thought we were most like. Secretly," she confides, "I really relate to Carrie, but my other friend wanted to be Carrie."
We've seen this time and time again with adult-themed shows and products being marketed on shows (and websites) that are primarily targeted at children.
Help put a stop to these irresponsible marketing tactics:
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (via the web or by calling 1-877-382-4357) and ask them to make New Line Cinema live up to their vows.
Contact YM.com and ask them to stop advertising R-rated movies and other products intended for adults.
Contact New Line Cinema and ask them to be more responsible in their marketing practices and stop targeting children with R-rated movies and TV show advertisements.