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Eight cablers to air ‘Town Hall’ kids sesh

In an unprecedented cable industry collaboration, a half-hour dialogue exploring issues surrounding children and television will be simulcast commercial-free on eight cable TV networks in April.

“The American Family and Television: A National Town Hall Meeting” will feature a discussion moderated by Linda Ellerbee and panelists including Time Warner vice chairman Ted Turner, CBS Entertainment prexy Leslie Moonves, FCC chairman Reed Hundt and producer Marcy Carsey.

Meeting will be taped March 17 at the National Cable Television Assn. convention in New Orleans and will air simultaneously on Bravo, the Cartoon Network, the Disney Channel, the Family Channel, Nick at Nite’s TV Land, Nickelodeon, the USA Network and Sportschannel Chicago. Airdate is April 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT.

The telecast aims to explore children-and-TV issues on both sides of the screen, with feedback from programmers, producers, advertisers and viewers.

“We hope to shed some light on who today’s families are, what they are looking for from television and, conversely, the decision-making process television networks go through that results in what is on the air,” Ellerbee said.

“Both parties need to take responsibility — parents for what their kids are watching and networks for what they are making available for kids and families to watch.”

Added Josh Sapan, prexy and CEO of Rainbow Programming Holdings Inc., “‘The ‘Town Hall’ special is about helping the American family feel it has some sense of control and that cable is on their side.”

The special kicks off a weeklong national cable industry initiative called Tune in to Kids and Family Week (April 7-13) during which some 75 networks will present family-friendly and child-friendly programming during the 8-9 p.m. hour.

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