Calling on the federal government to recognize "the enormous cultural influence of television on the minds and spirits of young children," the president of Quaker Oats Company yesterday asked the Federal Communications Commission to completely restructure Saturday morning programming.
Kenneth Mason, in a talk the American Association of Advertising Agencies of Chicago, suggested the creation of a single children's TV network that would bring high quality shows to child audiences every Saturday morning.
Mason proposed that each network produce 10 three-hour shows each year. Every Saturday, one show would be shown on all three networks between 9 a.m. and noon. The three networks would alternate Saturdays.The remaining 22 weeks would be filled with repeats.
The Quaker Oats Company is a major advertiser on children's shows, and Mason suggested that instead of having frequent commercial interruptions, advertisements could be clustered into a "commercial intermission period," and "be clearly identified as advertising."
By carrying the same programs at the same time, the networks would not only be able to schedule fine programs but would be protected from losing viewers to the others, Mason said.
He speculated that advertisers could rotate their commercials among the three networks during this period, a procedure he said he was confident would be approved by the Justice Department, which presumably would have antitrust questions with the arrangement.
Mason said that by the time they are college age, today's children "will have spent more time in front of a television set than in school, in church or in conversation or play with his or her parents."
While he points out that the medium of television "has improved noticeably in recent years," Mason said "there is no way a person interested in the future of this country can sit in front of his television set on a typical Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and not be visually and mentally very disappointed by the lack of intellectual content in most of the scripts, the lack of realism in most of the characters . . . and often the sheer idiocy of so many of the commercials."
It is unrealistic to believe that the present system can be dramatically changed, Mason said, pointing out that his own company suggested just a year ago that public broadcasting provide children's programming forthe nation - leaving commercial television alone.