Peggy Charren, Activist for Children’s Television, Dies at 86


Her efforts led to the passage of landmark legislation in 1990 and improved educational TV shows for kids.

Peggy Charren, an activist whose campaign for improved educational TV for kids culminated with the landmark Children’s Television Act becoming law in 1990, has died. She was 86.

Charren had suffered from vascular dementia for several years and died at her home in Dedham, Mass., The Boston Globe reported.

Frustrated with the quality of kids TV available to her two young children, Charren brought together parents at her home outside Boston in 1968 for a quest that would lead to the formation of the nonprofit Action for Children’s Television organization. It would eventually have more then 20,000 members.

A clause in the 1934 Federal Communications Act required that broadcasters using the public airwaves must “serve the public interest” in order to keep their licenses. ACT put pressure on legislators and insisted that broadcasters keep up their end of the bargain.

The Children’s Television Act required stations to air programming specifically designed to educate children. It also limited the number of commercials that could air during these shows.

“Peggy Charren was TV's first true kids’ advocate and someone who we profoundly respected,” Nickelodeon said in a statement. “She was a pioneer who transformed the TV landscape to serve kids with high-quality programming. Her legacy is one that we will always honor and uphold.”

A Disney Channels Worldwide statement said: "Peggy Charren's mission was speaking out on behalf of the most impressionable viewers, and her legacy will endure as a greatly respected figure in the transformation of children's television and the positive potential of media to support early learning."

In an interview with the Globe, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass., called Charren “the principal defender of children’s television in America” and “a conscience sitting on the shoulder of every commercial broadcaster.”

For her efforts, Charren received an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award and, in 1995, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

She also became an adviser at Boston PBS station WGBH, which is planning a celebration of her life and work.