Former FCC Chairmen Join Task Force Calling For New Digital Kids Initiative

Group will organize a national campaign to fund efforts aimed at helping parents and teachers better manage the growing impact of digital media on kids and teens
Common Sense Media
Thursday, January 24, 2008

Washington, D.C. – Joined by a bipartisan group of former FCC chairmen
and leading media industry executives and educators from across the country,
Common Sense Media today announced the launch of the Digital Kids Task Force, a
group that will organize a national campaign to fund efforts aimed at helping
parents and teachers better manage the growing impact of digital media on kids
and teens.

The announcement coincides with the FCC’s auction of broadcast spectra that
will be vacated by analog broadcasters as they convert to digital signals. The
auction, which is expected to raise billions of dollars through the sale of
public airwaves, will allow companies to offer more wireless Internet access to
consumers, including kids.

“Today’s children spend an average of nearly seven hours per day consuming
digital media – from the Internet to mobile phones to video games,” said Common
Sense Media CEO and founder James P. Steyer. “This vast digital media landscape
can have both a positive and negative impact on kids’ learning and healthy
development. We’re launching the Digital Kids Initiative so that parents and
educators can make sure that kids get the best, and avoid the worst, of this new
media world.”

The founding members of the Digital Kids Task Force include three former FCC
chairmen: Michael Powell, William E. Kennard, and Newton Minow. Other task force
members are:

Dr. Geoffrey Cowan – University Professor and Former Dean, The Annenberg
School for Communication at USC; Former Director, Voice of America

Gary E. Knell – President and CEO, Sesame Workshop

Hon. Rebecca Q. Morgan – Former California State Senator (R); Founding
President and CEO of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network

Dr. Ramon Cortines – Deputy Mayor for Education, Youth and Families for the
City of Los Angeles; Former Superintendent of Schools, New York, San Francisco

Yogen Dalal – Technology Entrepreneur; Managing Director, Mayfield Fund

Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel – Chair, Department of Bioethics, The Clinical Center
of the National Institutes of Health

Marcy Carsey – Founding Partner, Carsey-Werner Productions

Richard Barton – Leading Internet Entrepreneur; Founder of and

Steyer said that the members of the bipartisan task force believe that when
public airwaves are sold, some of the proceeds should be used to serve the
public interest.

“Television stations that use the public airwaves are required to serve the
public interest by airing educational children’s programming each week,” Minow
said. “We believe that part of the proceeds from auctions of the public airwaves
should serve the public interest in a similar fashion to the Digital Kids
Initiative and the Digital Promise project, to help parents and kids be safe and
smart in the new media world, and to address new opportunities to use technology
to improve learning.”

The group is meeting with key legislators in Washington, D.C., this week to
explore options for funding the new initiative. The Digital Kids Task Force will
spend the coming weeks educating legislators, teachers, and industry leaders
about its efforts to:

  • Support innovative digital media education programs for parents, teachers,
    and children to help America’s children learn digital safety and smarts.
  • Establish a centralized research program on the impact of digital media on children.
  • Test and develop programs that use new technologies to enhance children’s ability to learn.
  • Educate parents and teachers about the opportunities and potential dangers of the digital media world.


Quotes from FCC Chairmen:
Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell
: “We are in a new age of
communications, and in order to help parents keep their kids safe and smart, we
must introduce them to 'digital hygiene' by teaching them the proper rules for
communicating in the digital era."

Former FCC Chairman William Kennard: “As a parent, I know first-hand
that my child is growing up in a digital word that has a new set of challenges
for parents. I also know that the spectrum auction is going to impact this
digital world by opening up even more access to wireless Internet for kids. It
is critical for parents and educators to understand the perils as well as the
possibilities of the digital media landscape, which is why we urgently need to
fund the Digital Kids Initiative.”

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to improving the media lives of children and families. Today, millions of
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