Ad group ponies up $10 mil for broadcasters

ANA fund to sponsor 'family-friendly' primetime shows

BEVERLY HILLS -- In an effort to convince broadcasters to air more family-friendly programming, an advertising group has established a $10 million fund to support shows deemed to have appropriate content.

As part of the sixth annual Association of National Advertisers Alliance for Family Entertainment symposium, the group announced a fund that will commit ad dollars to sponsor primetime scripted and comedy programs that are considered "family friendly." The group includes high-value advertisers such as Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble.

The entertainment chiefs of all the major broadcasters participated in a panel discussion that followed the announcement at the Paley Center, with each pointing out shows on their network they believe fit the bill.

"People think of 'family-friendly programming' as a cause," ABC entertainment president Steve McPherson, who touted "Modern Family" as an obvious candidate. "People run from causes. To me, it's good business. Family is one of the few things we all have in common."

Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly pointed to the somewhat racy "Glee" as an example of a family-friendly show.

"A squeakily clean show that's safe for everyone? I don't know if that's going to make it on the air," Reilly said. "We did not set out with Ryan Murphy coming off of 'Nip/Tuck' to make a family show, but after some initial backlash, there was a backlash to the backlash, with families finding it raised issues that provoked discussion."

Alliance founder Marc Goldstein and advertisers emphasized that broadcast content doesn't have to be a throwback to 1950's, G-rated sitcoms to be eligible for the money -- just avoid gratuitous content. The fund will focus on providing money to support broadcast shows but eventually will be expanded to cable. The Alliance has helped fund shows such as NBC's "Chuck" and "Friday Night Lights" and the CW's "Gilmore Girls."