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Contents and trends in children’s television programming in Spain

Apart from the studies on effects and viewers, the studies based on the message constitute the third important block of the studies set forth by Lasswell on quantity and relevance of work on the relationship of children and television. We can identify two main blocks depending on the type of research: those based on programming and those that analyse television spots.

Studies on programming

The perspectives of observation are from two different angles; from the professional and from the viewer. In the words of Bloom and Lindheim (1989:16) “for the public, it’s the wealth of the material that is ready to be seen” and for the professional “it’s a concept that has two possible forms of action: find and work on new shows that attracts the most ideal audience and also broadcast programs that compete efficiently against any other offer.” There are many definitions of the word ‘programming’ (Contreras y Palacio 2001:27; Faus Belau 1995:191; Bustamante and Zallo, 1998:138; De la Mota, 1988:216; Calvo, 1996:161-162; Cortés Lahera, 2001:116; Gómez-Escalonilla, 2003:16; Bustamante, 1999:93; De Pablos, 1996:177; González Requena 1992:15). Ángel Benito sums up with clarity the three possible points of view about programming on which he makes special emphasis.

  1. The act and effect of programming, done by programming professionals and that is, chronologically the first phase of a conventional television company.
  2. The programming, written and the action of programming, internal ads and public broadcasting sum up the result of the action at hand. It equals to an “all” in which the parts are organized.
  3. The content, the program units, the messages broadcast, the “parts” of the “whole” individualized, or so to say, the “last ratio” of the process of the creation of television (Benito, 1991: 1119-1120)

In any case, research about programming, whether or not for children’s viewing are quite rare in situations other then studies about the market carried out by the departments of television broadcasting companies or by specialized firms. We can highlight, from the exceptions, the work done by the Institut nationale de l’audiovisuel (INA) between 1979 and 1980 under the auspices of UNESCO in which, during three weeks, programming of seven countries was compared (Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Hungary, Italy and Japan) and in which the results were favorable for the United States (the country that exports most content to other countries) although there is “certain specialization”. In the 80’s, a new research was carried out in seventy countries from the five continents to design a “methodology for the study of international circulation of programs and television news”. It revealed that the European television companies depended, on foreign productions, especially ones from the United States (Garitonandia, 1986)

Studies about television space

The studies on television sports have been analyzed from many different angles. Sometimes the object of the analysis was a certain program1, other times, a certain genre2, other times it was the advertising inserted in programs3, and in others, it was the analysis of one or numerous elements that form part of it4 like characters, audiovisual language, subtitles, etc. The vast majority was a combination some of these elements, for example; the family model proposed in national fiction series (Vázquez Barrio and López Melero, 2007); violence on the news (Garcia Galera, 2000), violence in sports (Barrero 2006) or the stereotypes present in advertising (Berganza y Hoyo, 2006)

Amongst the authors that have most investigated television violence through the analysis of content in Spain, the psychologist Miguel Clemente is worth highlighting. The analysis of six television broadcasting companies made it possible to reach the conclusion that the majority of cartoons possess signs of violence; that the programs intended for children are a lot more violent than the rest; and that the attacker along with the attacked are old males. They are main characters in the series, have qualities of reasoning and they are attacked or attack alone (Clemente y Vidal, 1995: 130-141). Navarro Marín (1995) carried out yet another study a year later in which he counted the violent acts present in all the programming of television companies and concluded that the time bands in which the majority of these violent acts took place was in the early mornings of weekdays and weekends, precisely the moment in which most children are watching television5. Urra Clemente and Vidal analyzed the programs broadcast on TVE 1 La 2, Telemadrid, Antena 3 y Tele 5 during one week (different for every broadcasting company) chosen in a random form6. This study concluded once again that cartoons are amongst the most violent.

On the representation of violence present in advertising we highlight the studies carried out by García Lora of 1,168 ads broadcast on an autonomic channel. The conclusion was that there exists certain violence through spot formats and the forms of the representation of these formats are similar to the ones broadcast in other television contents (García Lora, 2004:291).

The main studies on sexual stereotypes in which the technique used is an analysis of content are focused on explaining how the representation of males on television is favorably inclined towards males rather than females. (Courtney y Whipple, 1974; Dominick y Ranch, 1972, quoted by Clemente y Vidal, 1995:125).The representation of women has become a line for autonomous research (Women’s Studies) with relevant collaborations in the United States (Suezle, 1970; Dominick y Rauch, 1972; McArthur and Resko, 1975; Maraceck et al., 1978; O’Donnell and O’Donnell, 1978; Schneider and Schneider, 1979) and Spain, mainly from the 90’, (Sánchez Aranda et al., 2002; Sánchez Aranda, García, Grandío y Berganza, 2002; Fajula and Roca, 2001; Freixas, Guerra and Peindado, 2001; Bernández, 2000; del Moral, 2000; Loscertales, F. and González, R., 1995; Bermejo, 1994; Peña-Marín and Fabretti, 1990; Méndiz, 1987 and 1988; Balaguer, 1985).

Curiously, the body of research about female stereotypes is recent and not too abundant, whereas male stereotypes have barely been analyzed.

In 2004, Professor De Pablos Coello (2005) directed studies on the new models of man and woman in television advertising, with a sample of 4,843 ads broadcast by four TV stations during the lunch hours (13.00-16.00) and also during prime time (21.00-24.00). The results allowed him to verify that traditional stereotypes of males and females have been maintained, specially in ads directed to children and that there exists a masculine preeminence in almost all the studied aspects of the ads. That there exists an evident inequality between the masculine and feminine prominent figures puts Professor Perez Ornia in evidence with his analysis of content of children’s programming carried out by the Spanish TV stations TVE-1, 2, Antenna 3, Telecinco and Telemadrid between 1999/00 and 2002/03. With regard to that matter we quote Perez Ornia:

«The high percentage of stories whose protagonists are male (81,8 %) as opposed to female is noteworthy (14,3 %). In addition, there are 3,7 % prominent figures who are not defined sexually, for example, in the works ‘Digimon’ (La 2) or ‘The adventures of the book of Virtues’ (Telemadrid). This predominance of the masculine perhaps corresponds with the literary tradition, and with the stereotypes of the audio-visual statements that attribute to man the hero’s active role and to woman a more passive attitude who expects to be saved or liberated by the masculine figure. It draws attention because in children’s television there is an equal distribution of sexes, with a slightly presence of boys than of girls. One can affirm, therefore, that in the production of contents and in the programming there is an old-fashionable discrimination of genre, which systematically leaves the female prominent figures in secondary roles» (Perez Ornia , test de Hablitación Nacional vol. 2: 65-66)

The description of the commercial messages directed towards the child is one of the fields in which more of the content has been applied in the area of advertising research. This concern finds its explanation in the fact that the child is a predictably more vulnerable consumer to the persuasive messages7 . Toy advertising is one of three types or predominant lines of action among the advertising spots directed at children (Fernandez, 2004: 39) and the difference of studies between the former and the other two – spots that they have to do with nourishing products and promotions of TV station programs – is very significant. Xavier Bringué (2001) analyzes 285 toy ads and concludes that this advertising continues a persuasive strategy based on the direct communication with the user, choosing for the quantitative indirect format and that the association with educational values only happens in the categories of “games and computer toys» in early childhood.

In 102 ads, Gómez Espino and Blanco Lopez observed 20 different child archetypes. They also noted that the advertisements ranged between attributing an essentially optimistic meaning to childhood or interpreting it as a source of uncertainty and anxiety (Gómez and White, 2005: 60). Rodríguez and Correyero (2008) examine in what measure and in what ways the use of the image of children in the advertising spaces broadcast in the blocks of advertising of children’s programming. Traditionally one of the minority groups most studied through the technology of the analysis of content has been that of the ethnic minorities (Clemente and Vidal 1995:127). Within the ethnic minorities the studies can be focused on immigration, especially in the Anglo-Saxon countries (Greenberg, 1980; Gerbner, 1980; Morgan, 1982). In Spain, the study of Muñiz and Igartua (2004) on the information published on news in the national area and in different channels of children’s television is noteworthy. It shows that the coverage is not specialized, it is sensationalist and it relates, in 60 %, to cases with negative aspects.


The research aims to demonstrate two possible hypotheses. The first one holds that children’s programs support stereotyped schemes and that they do not adapt to the reality in which the children develop. The second one is the hypothesis that aims to demonstrate that children’s programs spread inadequate values and attitudes.

H 1: Children’s programs have obsolete cultural and social support or have maladjusted models to the reality of children.

H 2: Children’s programming spreads inadequate values and attitudes. In addition, two questions appeared in the research.

Q 1. Are harmful contents significant in that children’s programs spread violence, sex, alcohol or drugs?

Q 2. What type of advertising appears on television channels in children’s programs and what is its content?


The research applies a quantitative and descriptive methodology of a non experimental, longitudinal or observational type. On the one hand, we use the proper methodology of audiometric studies, and of the TV station’s departments of programming and, on the other hand, the analysis of content. To study the programming we have continued the parameters used in the TV station’s departments of programming and the offers of relevant Spanish authors in the matter like José Miguel Contreras and José Manuel Palacio (2001) or José Ángel Cortés Lahera (2001). Finally, to study the technical characteristics of the programs, the particularities of the actors of the statements, the values and predominant stereotypes and the quantity and typology of the advertising inserted in these, we have resorted to the analysis of quantitative content.


The variables taken for the study were the television programs broadcast by the Spanish TV stations for children, that is to say, directed at children of ages between 4 and 12 years.

We know from previous studies (Pérez Ornia and Núñez Ladevéze, 2003) that the television consumption varies, even more when we refer to children’s television watching habits. It varies with temporal variables that we must take into account to select our own variable. The programming variable by excellence is the period from September to June. But, inside this period some variables change, variables like the offer and the children’s consumption or television viewing in periods like Spring break or Christmas- due to this we decided to extract December and April, but we still needed one more variable; the different months.

Given that television consumption is conditioned by social and cultural and other obligations like work and school, the months in which this consumption is lowest is in the summer time due to the fact that people are on vacation and they spend more time on other offers. On the other hand, in Winter the consumption is highest also due to the weather conditions of this time of year. Regarding children’s programming we selected the programs broadcast on consecutive weekends of November, 2005. We considered that it is a big enough variable given that normally this type of studies usually analyzes one week alone and in this study, we analyzed two. The variable only took into account weekends because it is here where children’s programming is most concentrated.

Coding System

The book of codes and the tables of analysis will serve to interpret and segment the corpus and also to register the data. The book of codes is formed by three main types of analysis.

Identity signals of the analyzed product, like the rhetorical-formal and psychological characteristics. The geopolitical context is analyzed because we suppose that the country in which this type of programming is done has an effect on the configuration of the world, the topicality of the product and its formal characteristics.

The actors in the story: Make it possible for us to know the characteristics of the models that are being offered to children.

The advertising inserted in the programming intended for young viewers in their different forms such as spot, mentions, product placement and self promotion is also examined. The quantity of this type of products is analyzed and also the quality of the product that is being advertised, if there are children present in the ad, sex and eroticism, discrimination or drugs.

To extract the information referred to in these three aspects of analysis contained in the units of variables selected, it is necessary to segment them in units to register or codify. It is defined as “the minimal portion of content that the researcher sets aside and separates as there appeals one of the symbols, words, slogans, or themes that the researcher considers important” (López Aranguren, 1989:394). The determination in this type of units tends to be “the result of a descriptive job” (Krippendorff 1990:83) because what is most common is that it has no physically discernable limits. In this investigation we have worked with seven different units of analysis.

The first unit of analysis contemplated was the concrete broadcast to establish the concrete characteristics of the program in what refers to the technical card, genre and format. The second unit of analysis, one of the most used in fiction productions is the actor of the story, valid for the definition of the main characters and the secondary characters. The remaining four units of analysis are: the violent act, discriminatory act, erotic or sexual act and consumption of alcohol and / or drugs. The act and not the sequence as the unit of analysis was chosen because its beginning, its end and its duration are easily recognizable. The seventh and final unit of analysis is the court or advertising space. By cutting advertising it usually means the spot in space and time devoted to other types of advertising such as sponsorships, mention of the presenter, product placement, self-promotion or overlay.

The units of context «set limits to the contextual information that can be incorporated into the description of a unit record. That portion of demarcation in symbolic material to be examined to characterize the unit record «(Krippendorff, 1990:85). As we used several units for registration, we have several units of context. For the first unit of analysis, the broadcasting of a specific program, the context units are the programming of the channel and the rest of the program broadcast analyzed. The unit context of the rest of registration units, namely the actor’s story of violent acts, discriminatory, sexual and / or erotic and drug and alcohol use as well as cutting or advertising space program are all included.

The second part that integrates the protocol is the guide data recorder called sheet analysis. In our research, we used 10 sheet analysis:


Technical details

The category system is tailored according to 14 criteria for classification: country of production, year of production, seniority, if this is a production in color or black and white, if it is engraved on film or video format, if a first pass or a replacement, the date and time of broadcast, including advertising with the length and duration without publicity, the number of advertising cuts, the number of commercials and audience share. In the classification criterion relating to seniority, we also differentiated five groups of categories: 1-2 years, 3-4, 5-9, 10-19 and 20 or more years.


File gender or content

 It refers to the genre of analyzed programs. The category system is tailored according to 3 criteria: whether it belongs to fiction, information or other entertainment genres.


Overview of the main characters

It is structured according to 11 criteria for classification. The first is the number of actors in the series, which can be: single, two or more, and the second is sex: male, female and another, the third concerns the sexual orientation of the characters: heterosexual and homosexual; the fourth is the gender of the actor’s story to be registered, which may be human, not human, animal, android, virtual and others. Age, is the fifth criterion that we have taken into account in this portfolio analysis. To establish groups of variables in this category we used the unbundling TNSofres, A. M.:> 4, 4-12, 13-24, 25-44, 45-64,> 64 and we’ve added the «indeterminate» element, quite common in cartoons. Regarding race, different categories are brought together: white, black, Asian, African American, Native Americans and «not humane». Religion meets seven variables: Catholic, Christian not Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, agnostic and indifferent to doctrine whereas nationality includes another seven: Spanish, American, Latin American, Japanese, unspecified, real and not others. The three remaining categories are professional, family or social role played by characters in the program and discussed the type of actor in the story we are studying. Family or social roles concentrated on eleven possible variables: parent, child, grandparent, cousin, uncle, neighbor, friend, boss, employee, spouse, sibling and any other. As for the types, the can be real / not real and present / not present.


Information about the attitude and values of the main characters

It contains two groups of categories: attitudes and values of the protagonists. Attitudes may be: dominant-submissive; active-passive; optimistic-pessimistic; pragmatic-idealist; friendship-enmity; love-hate; altruism-individualism-selfishness; truth-lie. The values found are five: affection, conflict, competitiveness, religiousness and beauty. It also takes into account position whether the value is positive, negative or neutral, that is to say, if the protagonist analyzed, with the set characteristics is valued positive, negative or neither one thing nor the other by the other characters on the agenda.


Overview of minor characters

This follows the same criteria as the sheet of the main characters.


Overview of the variable violence

The classification criteria that takes part in this portfolio analysis are: the treatment of violence (humorous, realistic or symbolic); duration of violence contained in the program, the nature of the characters involved (protagonist, antagonist, not protagonist, actor and not protagonist, antagonist and protagonist, not protagonist and antagonist, unidentified and there is-in case it is taxable); the means used (explosive weapons, knives, fight melee, other weapons, torture, terrorism); consequences of violent action (deaths, mutilations, blood, destruction, aggression environmental damage, multiple consequences, none); whether or not there is physical or verbal violence (by the active subject or liabilities); free narrative or justification of violence, participation of children (not involved, active, passive, both) and the position of value (positive, negative, neutral).


Overview of the variable sex / eroticism

It records the sexual acts or erotic display represented in the programs analyzed. The criteria for classification environment to which this portfolio analysis articulates are: number and duration of scenes, characters involved, relationship between the characters involved, type of erotic or sexual event, abnormal behavior, involving minors and position of value.


Overview of variable discrimination

This allows for collection of information on the number of discriminatory acts and their duration, the characters involved, the causes of such discrimination, the participation of minors and the position of value. Overview of the variable alcohol and drugs. It is the same as the previous except in the typology, in the case referred to earlier forms of discrimination and in these varieties of alcohol and drugs: wine, beer, liquor, another type of alcohol, illegal drugs and snuff. File advertising. We collected six forms of advertising: spot, sponsorship, overlays, mention of the presenter, product placement and self promotion, program or other programs. The categories covered are the number of block advertising and serial number within the same for the spots and the serial number in the rest of the forms of advertising taken into account, with the date and time of issue of advertising The type of product being shown, the presence of children, prescribers, sex / eroticism, violence, discrimination, alcohol and drugs and audience share and in thousands were considered.


Once finished registering an independent evaluator conducted further analysis on a sample of 20% of the units chosen at random in order to estimate the reliability of the process of encoding (Intercode reliability). Among all existing indexes for evaluating the reliability the formula Holsti was chosen, which is the most commonly used according to which: PC = 2D / (C1 + C2) where,

PC = Percentage of coincidences and agreements.

D = Number of agreements between encoders.

C1 and C2 = A number of units coded.

The average percentage of matches obtained in this case was 90.44%. In the recording of values and attitudes of the protagonists, the tab which is the most difficult to measure, the percentage of matches decreased to 79.18%, but even here it is an acceptable reliability (Neuendorf, 2002).


Children's programs maintain social and cultural models which are obsolete or unsuitable to the reality of children. (Hypothesis 1)

Content analysis of the profile of the characters, ages, backgrounds and roles represented in 58 programmatic units corresponding to 41 different titles was used to test this hypothesis. The length is 1,018 minutes of which 68.2% belong to programs, 11.3% in-house production and 20.5% in advertising. 38% are between 1 to 2 years old, 26% between 3 to 4, and 14% from 5 to 9, 19% from 10 to 19 years old and 3.45%, 20 years old or more. The content of own production is 11.3%. The content from USA reaches a 58.62%. The rest: 27.59% domestic production, 5.2% United Kingdom, Italy and Japan 3.4% and 1.7% France. A single character, two characters and many characters play children’s programs in almost the same proportion. 70.4% of the characters are male, which shows a predominance and over-representation of men. Regarding the age represented, the most common is the segment of 4 to 12 years (31.2%). Adolescents and youths, 13-24 years, are the next (2%). Higher ages are much less represented. Those ages correspond with people closest to children as parents and grandparents in the family or teachers in the academic world. This unequal distribution blurs reality in which children move. In the case of minor characters, the difference is smaller and perhaps more suited to reality: 56.6% are male and 42.5% women.

Regarding the origin of the characters, 8% were blacks. Apart from the 45.6% of characters who do not come from a real race, 42.4% are from the United States of America. There is also a small representation of Latin American, Japanese and Spanish and 4% of the cases could not be ascertained this category. This inequality in the origin of the protagonists does not describe a scenario in which real Spanish children develop their lives, with a high presence of immigrant population coming mainly from Latin America and to a much lesser extent the United States. The family and social roles most developed by the protagonists is that of the friend (54.4%).

With regard to occupation, approximately one third is students and the rest either do not do any particular activity or belong to the world of magic and superheroes. As for the minor characters, the percentages are similar: whites predominate (51.6%). Blacks represent 8.81% and there is a small representation of African Americans (0.6%) and Asians (1.3%) in addition to the characters from the non-human race (37.74%). Most are Americans (43.4%), and together with those from no real race (38.36%) totaled around 82% of the sample. Among the minority nationalities, Latin America accounts for 3.14%, 6.92% the Spanish, 0.63% the Japanese and 7.55% undetermined.

The professions of the minor characters are diversified. There is a predominance of characters who have no occupation (29.5%), followed by students (18.24%). Among the rest, we must differentiate between the real and those that belong to the magical world and superheroes. Among the former are lawyers, doctors, scientists and researchers, entrepreneurs or presenters, as well as teachers and housewives. By correlating the profession and sex there is a large occupational conservatism in the approaches of the characters. All teachers and housewives are women and few engage in any of the other proposed activities.

Hypothesis 1 is thus confirmed.

Children's programming broadcast inappropriate attitudes and values. (Hypothesis 2)

To support this hypothesis is a content analysis of the values manifested in both the protagonists and in the secondary characters of children’s programming. Friendship is the kind of affection that stands out from the others (44.8%). There is a clear imbalance regarding affection within the family (10.4%). Thirdly, break up of couple relationships (3.2%). However, half the characters (41.6%) did not express any particular type of affection towards any other character of its surroundings, but this is what we might refer to an attitude as generic. It is particularly remarkable that conflict is recorded in 36% of the characters (11.2% among friends, at work 8.8%, 4% in the family, 0.8% in the couple and the rest in other relations). As for competitiveness, 90.5% of the cases did not detect such relations. None of these characters exteriorize any religious belief. The physical body cult is present in 12% of the protagonists.

An incidence of discriminatory attitudes of 10.34% has been found. For sex 37.5%, based on age, physical appearance, nationality, social class and «other» account for 12.5% each. The programs that include more discriminatory acts are those that were produced 1-2 years ago (13.6%), followed by those produced 3-4 years ago (13.3%) and finally fall from the one two decades old (9.1%). In 75% of cases, the individual who commits discrimination is the principal actor of the story in all discriminatory acts involving minors registered there. In 62.5% of cases it is a passive holding, it is active in 25% and 12.5% reflect both circumstances. Regarding the position of value, 62.5% are reinforced by other characters, for the development of the plot or the outcome of the same.

The hypothesis was partially confirmed to note that it not only detects competitiveness (attitude), but a notable lack of affection as well as the presence of conflict and discriminatory behavior.

Are harmful contents significant in that children’s programs spread violence, sex, alcohol or drugs? (Question 1)

5.17% of violent acts have been detected. Of the programs produced in Japan and Italy sampled, 100% contain some violent acts; 23.5% of the programs produced in the U.S., contain some form of violence. In the case of national productions violence has been detected in 6.3% of the sites analyzed. There is an inverse relationship between the existence of violence and antiquity in the latest band (1-2 years old) when this trend is broken. The more recent the contents, including less violence, except, as already indicated, in the band of 1-2 years, the percentage increases with respect to the previous band (3-4 years). 81.25% of acts correspond to physical violence; 10.42% to verbal or physical violence and the remaining 8.33%, simultaneously both types of violence. Nearly 50% of all acts have a duration of 6 to 15 seconds and in the other 50% they exceed sixty minutes. The predominant treatment in violence is, in all cases, realistic. 78% of the total of violence manifested is either verbal or through gesture. Secondly is symbolic violence. Regarding acts of physical violence, 11.63% of cases where aggression is represented in a humorous way were detected.

The consequences of violence represented do not usually fall directly on individuals, but about things and the environment. In 41.86% of the cases there occurs violence other than death, being maimed, blood or terrorism. Destruction makes up for 34.88% of the violent acts and in 20.93% no effects arising from this aggressive behavior are shown. Children do not participate extensively in the violence represented despite the fact that the programs are analyzed among the dominant age group of the main characters and is also very present among the secondary. Most violent acts registered have a neutral (58.3%) or positive (33.3%) value position.

5.17% of the scenes include content related to alcohol or drugs. In all cases it exceeds 30 seconds and for 67% cases the time spent on screen is more than minute. Beer, wine or liquor, and snuff and illegal drugs have emerged with the same percentage (33.3%). In 66.6% of all cases the main characters are who consume alcohol and drugs and the remaining 33.3% do so other characters. 33.3% of the cases there are children who appear as active consumers. Even in cases where minors are those who consume any alcohol or drugs the position is either of positive value or at best neutral. There have been detected implicit or explicit criticisms by the rest of the main characters towards these consumption risks.

Regarding the presence of sex or eroticism, no scenes with such content have been detected.

What kind of advertising is broadcast on television stations in children's programs and what is the content? (Question 2)

In total, 757 spots have been analyzed. 96.51% of the spots are spots, 2.68% are sponsorships and 0.8% are overlays. Toys (67.74%) and ads for food (9.91%) are the most numerous. The third place is occupied by self promotions of other programs on the TV station (6.69%) and none of the other possibilities in this category reaches 4%. In 8.46% of the spots there has been detected some kind of violence of which 5.64% corresponds to physical violence and the remaining 2.82% to verbal violence. The categories in advertising that have resorted to violence in a greater number of occasions are, in descending order: toys, games, self promotion and other programs linked in a number of cases to other merchandising programs, movie premieres and self promotion on the TV station. In 68.27% of the ads analyzed there are children present. When dividing this figure by the type of product, that which relies most assiduously on this resource is the toy (78.24%).


This study has examined two scenarios: one fully confirmed and the second one just partially confirmed. An analysis of the two hypotheses raising some issues that we consider relevant. The production of children’s own content channels analyzed is very limited. In children’s programs exceed even the advertising time for content produced by channels that broadcast. Among children’s programming offered by television generalists to children hence, foreign production (72.41%) and more specifically American (58.62%) predominate. In addition, contents are old, especially when compared with production for adults. This age of the children’s programming broadcast by the channels studied is explained in four circumstances: the apathy of operators; market conditions, as these products are unprofitable in the short term and further production costs tend to be high; the characteristics of children who, although like adults prefer the new content, bear repetition quite well, and the characteristics of the very content, as most children’s content being offered to children are cartoons and its timelessness often endure well replenishment.

Perhaps for this reason, data on production, the sex of the protagonists, nationalities represented and professionals is far from the reality in which children operate.

The origin and age of children’s content models assume that family and social as well as plots and arguments are quite distant from the natural environment of the recipients of these contents, Spanish boys and girls. Also the configuration of the actors of the story is influenced by these circumstances. Men, for example, represent 70.4% of the protagonists and 56.6% of the minor characters where the models have a lower female representation. There is also a great conservatism in the work situations of the characters: Women remain largely as housewives and teachers and they are the ones who embody all other career opportunities. The incidence of antiquity about this situation is evidenced by the fact that when correlating some of the analyzed variables such as sex, the degree of individuality of the actors or the patterns of beauty exhibited with the date of production differences between more spaces and less recent have been detected.

There is, perhaps, a waste of the possibilities of television. If we assume that television can socialize and also the feature stories shape the media, several aspects highlighted by this study demonstrate that they are not adequately exploiting the possibilities of the medium. While it is not particularly relevant to the amount of inappropriate content, however, the absence of others who would be particularly suitable for this type of programs aimed at child viewer is noteworthy. Firstly, the fact that racial diversity of nationalities represented is so low that it is a clear waste of the possibilities of the medium to promote values of tolerance, diversity and equality. Secondly, one third of the protagonists analyzed are students and the rest either do not conduct any activity or what they do it is not real. There is not, therefore, occupational information. Adult characters do not carry out real professions or trades that will serve as information to the child. They do not have any obligation to work or their jobs do not exist in the real world. Among the minor characters the range of occupations is broaderthere are lawyers, doctors, scientists, teachers, etc…-, although this world is still dominated by students and those who have no occupation.

As regards attitudes and values shown in children’s programs, we find that the potential of television as a socializing agent is not adequately exploited, more so in the early age at which children learn by observation. 42% of the characters do not reveal any specific relevance to any subject of their environment which is a clear waste of the potential of television to promote values and attitudes. Nor does the affection towards the family leave us indifferent occupying only 10.4%, taking into account the centrality of the family unit in the Spanish society and the role it plays for children of these ages. Fourthly, we have not seen a relevant incidence or violence or consumption of alcohol and drugs discriminated against and there has been no case of sex and eroticism. Neither have however any messages that attempt to were prevented inadequate behavior respect to these four variables transmitted, nor was any information offered through the stories.

With regard to the existence of little content suitable for children, there has been no sexual or erotic content, the incidence of violence and alcohol and drug use is 5.17% in both cases and corresponds to only two titles aimed at a youthful audience whereas discrimination exists in a 10,34% of the sites analyzed. Unlike the alarmism that is common in such studies, we have not detected any representation of behavior that is worthy of concern. In obtaining these results one may need to see the definition of the concepts discussed. Of the four unsuitable types of content for children who have been taken into account in the research, violence mediated on television has aroused most interest among social researchers. However, no commonly accepted definition has been reached despite the fact that all authors who have been concerned with this phenomenon have had to face the same problem of terminology. While a consensus is not reached, each researcher has to define what is meant by the violence that inevitably influences the results8. In our case, the objective of the research on this variable is to describe the violent content that is included in programs aimed at children from the standpoint of television language. We have considered as violent behavior that deliberated act led by one or more characters on one or more other characters, animals or things in order to produce physical or psychological damage or with the intention to produce them. While we recognize that there may be more restrictive definitions, we understand that we have used research to obtain a fairly accurate picture of violence represented in the programs analyzed.

As for advertising inserts in children’s programs, we have already stated that it surpasses in time the contents of the production itself. The channels respect format programs belonging to others, which do not insert advertisements. In connection with the self promotions we have observed two things: firstly, a meaningful relationship between the percentage of self promotion issued by each TV station, the place of the child viewer in the strategic plans of the station and the amount of child viewers and secondly, the interest of the TV stations to attract children to programming aimed at adults. Most of the self promotions correspond to national drama series and entertainment programs broadcast after 10 pm. This is relevant because it could reflect an attempt by the TV station to introduce child viewing schedules that do not correspond. Indeed, future studies could explore the attitudes and values shown by the spaces which are aimed at adult audiences or families. We have proved that the top ranking of what is most watched by children is the 4 to 12 year old band and that these programs are often broadcast in time slots that are not best suited for children.

In any case, it is worth mentioning the fact that over 67% of the contents of the advertisements refer to toys and this should be interpreted taking into account programs to be broadcast over the coming months to Christmas.


  1. Cook et al. (1975). Sesam Street revisited. New York: Russell Sage Foundation; VVAA (2004): Cuéntame cómo pasó: el final de los años sesenta. Madrid: Aguilar.
  2. For example, Mendoza Bernal, M. I. (1996). “La telenovela como discurso audiovisual: evolución y características formales”. Directora: Margarita Schmidit Noguera. Universidad Complutense de Madrid: Facultad de Ciencias de la Información. Departamento de Comunicación Audiovisual y Publicidad I. Tesis inédita; García de Castro, M. (2001). “El neorrealismo contemporáneo en las series televisivas de Globomedia: la hegemonía de la ficción televisiva local 1995-2000”. Director: José Miguel Contreras. Universidad Complutense de Madrid: Facultad de Ciencias de la Información. Departamento de Comunicación Audiovisual y Publicidad I; Cavell, S. (1999). La búsqueda de la felicidad: la comedia de enredo matrimonial en Hollywood. Barcelona: Paidós.
  3. Tur, V. (2004). Comunicación publicitaria de juguetes en televisión. Alicante: Universidad de Alicante; McNeal, J. U. (1993). Marketing de productos para niños: manual sobre comercialización dirigida a los niños. Barcelona: Granica; Guber & Berry (1993) Marketing to and through kids. London: McGrawHill
  4. Salvador, G. (1994). Un vehículo para la cohesión lingüística: el español hablado en los culebrones. Burgos: Caja de Burgos, Área de Cultura, Obra Social; De la Rosa, E. (1995). Estrellas animadas. Madrid: Animateruel, Gestival de Cine de Alcalá de Henares.
  5. The study by Clemente and Vidal (1995:134-135) says that “the first time fraction (until 10 AM) has the highest registered percentages in both, the type of aggression and the grade to which its manifested in between 53% and 91%. The second time fraction (from 10 AM to 1.30 PM) Is where the highest percentage of non verbal aggressions and also the most gruesome physical aggressions. And the third time fraction (from 13.30 PM to 5 PM) is the fraction that contains less percentages of violence in all aspects, these being comprehended in between 0% and 11%. And the last time fraction (from 5 PM until the end of children’s programming) is where the highest percentages of aggressions with knives and weak aggressions are registered.
  6. Comparing information taken from different periods is not advisable. García Matilla, Callejo and Walter (2004) do also criticize that the concept ‘violence’ is not concrete and also the counting of violent programs but not the violent acts. For that reason the program including just one violent act has the same relevance than the program with more.
  7. Xavier Bringué (2001) systematizes three different levels of child consumption ‘as primary market with possibilities of buying with their own Money, as a being, subject to influences when their preferences affect the consumption of a third party. And last, a potential consumer as son as he/she acquires certain knowledge about brands and products that are not yet at their own reach.
  8. For an in-depth study of the concept of audiovisual violence, consult; Garrido Lora, M. (2004): Violencia, Televisión y Publicidad. Análisis narrativo de spots publicitarios de contenido violento. Sevilla: Alfar.

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