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Advisory ban to outfox kids

Fox Children’s Network prexy Margaret Loesch thinks there may be a sure-fire way to get young kids interested in an animated show: slap an advisory on the program telling them not to.

Speaking at the TV critics’ twice-annual tour, Loesch said Fox nixed the idea of advisories on its relatively dark “Batman: The Animated Series” precisely because it was felt the label might inspire younger kids to tune in, also maintaining that Fox polices its shows closely enough to render such labeling unnecessary.

The exec pointed out that Fox has never received a complaint regarding content on its action-oriented series, including “Batman” and “X-Men.” Loesch added that FCN’s ultimate mandate “is to entertain youngsters” and that “entertainment often involves conflict for good drama.”

Exploding mice

Asked about the effect of animated violence, Loesch noted that there is “very little agreement … as to what impact blowing up (an) animated mouse may have on children” but that programmers are very careful “because we’re not sure.”

She also confirmed there had been discussions with Steven Spielberg and Universal regarding a “Jurassic Park” animated series but said they’ve fizzled, with Spielberg deciding not to go forward with the project now. Amblin Entertainment is partnered with Warner Bros. Animation on the FCN series “Tiny Toons” and the upcoming “Animaniacs.”

FCN plans to take a page from Fox Broadcasting Co.’s primetime strategy and stagger the introduction of its kidvid lineup from August through October, instead of the traditional mass intros one Saturday in September that’s been characteristic of the daypart.

Though Fox will try one live-action series this fall, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” Loesch admitted that it usually doesn’t have the “staying power,” or repeatability, of animation with kids.

She also acknowledged that seven-day-a-week cable services like Nickelodeon may have become greater competition than ABC and CBS, who target kids only on Saturday in contrast to FCN’s 19-hour, six-day-a-week schedule.

Reason to crow

FCN has a lot to crow about this year, having ranked first among kids in Saturday morning 21 of the last 26 weeks in addition to claiming three of the top five weekday strips.

Fox has also posted solid year-to-year increases, compared to drops by competitors like CBS’ weekend lineup and Buena Vista’s syndicated “The Disney Afternoon.”

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