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France Bans Broadcast of TV Shows for Babies

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 24-03-2009

You can argue about the protectionism of the State, and whether this is too much control, but there is wisdom behind the recent decision by the French broadcasting authority to ban French television from airing TV shows made for kids under three years old.

As with many laws that are put in place to protect those who can’t protect themselves, I think the French have it right here. One thing babies definitely do not need is more TV. The advent of BabyTV in 2006 in the US spurred a national debate and the American Academy of Pediatrics made a pronouncement that babies should be kept from television completely. Now that BabyTV and BabyFirstTV are available in France from foreign distributors, this has become an issue there as well.

As the the French ruling noted, “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”

While many of these TV shows are said to be designed especially for babies, in the Baby Einstein vein, the reality is that many parents (guilty as charged, your honor) use these shows as an electronic baby sitter, for even extended periods of time (not guilty on the second charge). The ruling went on to note, “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.”

Anyone knows that the short term benefit of letting kids watch TV for even a short time comes with an immediate cost. They are usually pumped up for a while afterward, if only to list all the toys they suddenly have to have.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp owns Baby TV. Three companies, Regency Enterprises (a partner of News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment), Kardan N.V, and Bellco Capital, a private Los Angeles-based investment fund own BabyFirst TV.