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: firstname.lastname@example.org and the subject should be: Customer Complaint - On Demand.
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