When Discovery announced that it was teaming with Hasbro on a new kids net (formed from Discovery Kids), it was only a matter of minutes before some began questioning the venture’s integrity.
“This partnership represents a new low in children’s television, a network devoted to showing infomercials for Hasbro’s toy and games,” decried Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood dir Susan Linn. “It will make a mockery of existing ad limits and the current prohibition of product placements in children’s television.”
Execs for Discovery and Hasbro have said the priority is to build a great network, not to push Hasbro products. Some of the programming being developed will feature Hasbro properties, including My Little Pony, G.I. Joe and Scrabble.
We asked Discovery chief David Zaslav after the announcement if he was concerned about a pushback with a toymaker having a 50% stake in the venture.
“The editorial control lies with the channel itself through the pres and gm,” he said. “Hasbro has already been very successful with kids’ programming, and we have a good record domestically and internationally in creating quality content. It’s core to what we are, and that will be one of our focuses.”
Children’s advertising has always be a touchy subject, with FCC rules liming the amount of advertising that can be aired during children’s shows. It also does not allow a program based on a toy or children’s product to contain ads for that product within the program, although such spots can follow the show. In ’04, Viacom’s Nick and Disney’s ABC Family were fined $1mln and $500K, respectively, to settle potential violations found in the FCC’s 1st audit of cable for compliance with children’s ad restrictions. The nets blamed computer and human error.