In searching for a new topic for discussion, I came across a New York Times article that was written about a gender stereotyping controversy in television programming. The chief executive of the Fox Family Channel, Rich Cronin, wanted to create two new television networks called The Boyz Channel and The Girlz Channel. Cronin felt strongly that there are some forms of entertainment that girls enjoy while boys do not and vice versa. He also wanted Fox to keep up with the current programming trend of specialized networks; for example, MTV is geared towards the general teenage audience and ESPN for sport fanatics. In creating a specialized network, the television company can secure more advertisers with the promise of attracting viewers that would appeal to particular products or services.
Cronin believed that the network would not be exploiting the differences between boys and girls but rather acknowledging their existence. The selection of entertainment for each channel would be determined by boys and girls responses taken from surveyed focus groups and determined appropriate for children by developmental specialists. Cronin argued that he wouldn’t be making a girly girl channel or a super boyish boys channel; however, he doesn’t plan to put particularly boyish shows on the girlz channel just to disprove gender stereotypes. In order to justify his positive intentions for the two stations, Cronin mentioned that he has sisters that have professional occupations and has two daughters. He likes to think of the channel separation as a “celebration” of gender differences.
I find that it is not very surprising that many parents, feminists and other programming directors were opposed to this children’s network specialization by gender. Children are easily influenced by what they see on television and creating a channel for girls and another for boys would send a message that girls should want to watch this while boys should want to watch that. I think that Professor Sheri Parks brought up a good point about the concern for how a boy would feel if he enjoyed watching a show that was on The Girlz Channel. It is possible that boys would not want to watch certain shows just because they are on the television channel that is clearly labeled as girl’s entertainment. In bringing up his female family members, Cronin is attempting to subtly prove that people should not fear that he would be sexist in the making of the two channels. By making this claim, Cronin actually weakens his argument because by no means does the fact that he has female family members demonstrate that he understand women. Children’s activist, Peggy Charren, has a high concern about Cronin’s programming plans because Fox has a history of promoting boy dominated action shows. I feel that Cronin is so passionate about creating the gender-separated networks due to the fact that he could target more advertisers by channeling specific audiences. Overall, I believe that he is out to find a way to make a large profit for Fox and himself.
This article was published by the NY Times in 1998 and the plans to launch the two channels were for 1999. I have searched for reports on the launch of the two channels or if the plans for the programming fell through.Unfortunately, I have not found any news on if there were or are The Girlz Channel and The Boyz Channel on television. Please feel free to comment with any evidence about the outcome of Cronin's networking plans!