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Comcast: exposing kids to violent previews

The other day, Leah emailed us about an issue that accurs in her household:

Our family has Comcast - which comes with a nifty OnDemand feature.  We're not big TV watchers, but our daughter does like Little Bear and Max and Ruby [and it is great to be able to watch those chose whenever she'd like]. To use the service, you go to channel 01. On this channel, you can use your remote to scroll thru and find the TV program you want and hit play and off you go. BUT the whole time you are doing this there is a preview screen running in the corner.  So they play movie preview after movie preview.  And most of these previews are NOTHING I'd ever want my daughter to see. So I have her leave the room, but every once in a while, she sees it anyway. They have explosions, fighting, monsters, scary movie previews that give me the creeps, sexy scenes...the whole thing.

She wrote to Comcast about this problem and she wasn't able to get them to turn it off.  So, she prodded a bit more and found a Customer Service Representative (CSR) from Comcast here in PDX office who will collect individual e-mails on this issue and forward them in bulk to the corporate group.  The more people and organizations that respond/send concerns in, the more likely it is that something will be done. Send emails to: lisa_walter@cable.comcast.com and the subject should be: Customer Complaint - On Demand.

Leah says:

Corporate has had a trickle of these complaints and asks "what promotion exactly did they see that was offensive?" They haven't received critical mass of complaints yet.  The CSR has watched the "Barker" ( the ad window that rotates promos ) and knows exactly what we're talking about. The promo loop rotates through completely in about 5 minutes. It is "refreshed" every Thursday for a 1-week run.  And it almost always includes violent promos.  She would like all individuals to send their comments to her, with as much detail as possible about what promo was on that causes concern.

It wouldn't harm the organization to make all the promos shown family-rated, but there may be ad contracts from the studios that need to be addressed from the corporate side. It is confirmed that Comcast does not have the capability to "program" the Barker to show different promos to different homes, nor can they turn it off subscriber by subscriber. They'd need to either agree to show all family-rated promos or not run visual promos at all on the preview channel.

I am also going to suggest (since they can’t turn the preview Barker off) that they either:

  • make previews a channel all to itself 
  • offer an OnDemand without previews channel
  • change the previews seen as soon as you select “kids” from the menu


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THANK YOU! I just had this happen last night. I was trying to find a Jakers! show on the pbs ondemand section, and a promo of Fright Night was playing - vampire fangs and all. I had to stand in front of the tv as a quick block for my 4 year old. I already know to mute the tv before I go into ondemand since more than once (luckily my son didn't hear) have there been expletives strewn about in the promos. I will email comcast asap about this - thank you!

I don't really mean to be antagonistic here, but you realize you're paying to receive this advertising, right? Perhaps I'll get cable when they decide to pay me to watch their ads.

This has been a frustration in our household as well. I like the fact that with OnDemand we can pick from a variety of kids shows that are 30 min in length (great for those nights when everyone is getting cranky as I try to make dinner) but I hate those violent previews. Thanks for passing this info. along.

We know we pay to receive this advertising but I think Comcast can adjust it's OnDemand programming to cater to their customers, assuming they hear from us and our concerns to the previews as it stands. We will play an OnDemand show like Caillou or Seasame Street or Laurie Berkner videos sometimes for the kids, but when the show runs out, it's back to scary gun firing noises and buildings crashing and burning. I'll be sending a letter and I really, really appreciate Leah passing on the info. This is something that has happened often in our household and I have often wondered what to do about it!

Same thing on news websites, clicked on a video of cute baby animals and got a sexually oriented medication commercial.

I am so sick of seeing the violent previews for CSI and other such shows; also for upcoming movies, this is on regular tv. We have direct tv. Who do I send complaints to they are some of the most disgusting things on tv and I don't know why we have to be subject to the previews. It is hard to shut it off when you don't know it is coming on!

we thought since it was on the childrens choices the previews would be "g" rated. no, they were cussing on the preview. this is stupid. children cant even watch their shows w/o these adult previews. and i am not happy w/some of the adult things they have for free on the demand. if i knew it was going to be like this i wouldnt have gotten it.

2010 and this still continues...

Yes, it still continues. Why is there not more outrage about it? Why aren't more media advocacy organizations doing something about it? I hate how my toddlers can get accidentally exposed to explosions, people being shot with guns, or scary monster shows without their own or my consent. It is invasive and can be traumatizing or confusing for them. I know I should monitor more closely and I try. But sometimes as a fallible parent of twins, who wants to take a shower, and whose kids don't want to watch what's currently programmed, we turn to On Demand. I guess we vote with our wallets and should discontinue Comcast, but of course, that would be another thing to take care of in our busy lives. It's not always that simple. And of course the companies know this. Anyway, I'd like to see more people doing something about this (and I should do more myself, I know).

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