Should Hasbro Be Allowed To Own A Kids' TV Channel?

New kid-centric cable channel The Hub hasn’t even debuted yet, but it’s already receiving a lot of criticism from parental and consumer watchdog groups, not because its programming is too violent or racy, but because it’s co-owned by toy and game giant Hasbro.

The Hub, a partnership between Hasbro and Discovery Communications, will feature a decent portion of programming based on products from the toy company, like G.I. Joe, My Little Pony and Transformers. And then there’s a show like Family Game Night, where contestants play live versions of Hasbro board games like Cranium, Twister and Yahtzee.

“The notion of a toy company owning a television channel for the sole purpose of promoting their toys is egregious practice,” said Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which recently lodged a complaint with the FTC regarding the new NickToons show Zevo-3, which they allege is nothing but a 30-minute ad for Skechers sneakers.

Meanwhile The Hub’s CEO defends the channel to the L.A. Times:

“There have been many shows created just to try to help move toy lines that have come and gone very quickly,” Loesch said. The proportion of programs that the Hub will carry based on Hasbro toys and games is less than 20%, she said, “a very small piece of a much larger mosaic.”

We know a lot of you are parents. At the very least, most — if not all — of you were children at some point. So we wanted to get your opinion on whether or not a toy company should be in the broadcasting business:


New kids’ TV channel raises product-placement concerns [L.A. Times]

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  1. human_shield says:

    Most cartoons are toy advertisements anyway, interrupted by toy commercials, so what’s the difference??

    • narcs says:

      and most non-cartoon shows are for product placement too.

    • Difdi says:

      None whatsoever, just more blatant.

    • cupcake_ninja says:

      Exactly. What bothers me most are adult commercials on kid channels. My 5 yr old came up to me asking me to buy Space Bags the other day because she saw them on Sprout.

      • AstroPig7 says:

        I think commercials like that are aimed at adults who might be watching the show with their children. (Not that I think it makes much sense, either.)

  2. sodium says:

    Uh, as I recall, there are millions of commercials promoting toys to children on ANY network targeted for kids. When did parents start hating fun?

  3. Kaonashi says:

    The FTC really needs to butt out on both this and on the whole swearing on television issue. I’m all for them saying that you have to fully disclose before, during, after a show that there will be racy or advertising content in the show but they shouldn’t be banning out outright. It’s up to the viewer or, in the case of children, the viewer’s parent(s) what they watch or don’t watch. I don’t see this happening though because of the obnoxious right wing groups like the PTC and parents who can’t take care of their own kids and want the government to do it for them at taxpayer expense.

    • YOXIM says:

      I agree. In the end, the determining factor in whether or not the parents buy the toys for the kids will not be the commercials. It’s based on whether or not they can afford it. When I was a kid, there were all kinds of cool toys I saw on TV that I would’ve given my right kidney to own. However, my folks couldn’t afford them, so I never got them. Simple : )

      • Conformist138 says:

        Even better, my parents one time did get me the latest toy (it happened to be one that was in their budget for christmas that year) and it sucked. The thing was just junk, so we returned it. My mom let me use the money to pick out a ton of smaller, cheaper toys that were both of a higher quality and allowed more imagination in playing. I learned a good lesson with that- just cuz it gets the most play on TV doesn’t mean it’s the best toy.

        (The “fad” toy was a battery-operated dog on a leash, I traded for lots of standard plastic pony and dog figures. I had my own teeny-tiny ranch and kennel with those)

  4. intense_jack says:

    Next thing you know they’ll stop letting shows air on TV that have a strong toy line already established. Ridiculous. Parents should raise kids, TV and toys are there to entertain.

  5. cosmic.charlie says:

    “Nope. This is advertising, not entertainment”

    Seriously, this all television is advertising, not entertainment. That is why no one drives a 1992 civic to their menial job on telelvision

  6. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I don’t see how this is so different from Disney owning a channel, and promoting its own movies and merchandise on that channel.

    • kcvaliant says:

      Yeah no shit..

      Someone just wants a cut..

    • Shmoodog says:

      I agree. TV is in the business of selling things to make money. Disney owns a channel, as one poster pointed out. Rupert Murdoch owns how many different TV channels? How is that different than this?

      I honestly don’t know the answer to this, but doesn’t Coca-Cola own any media? I mean, they are one of the biggest conglomerates out there, and I’m sure they own media that advertises their product. What about Kraft Foods? Same thing.

      Honestly, arguing about this seems like a deliberate way to waste our time, when we could be arguing about things that matter. Which we won’t because…oh look the new Glee is on!

    • TasteyCat says:

      Yep, Disney Channel is basically one big commercial for Disney movies and music. In the end, it’s still entertaining. If it’s not, don’t watch it. If you don’t want your kids to watch it because you disagree with the practice, don’t let them.

    • Conformist138 says:

      Don’t forget- The Disney Channel promotes it’s own stuff EXCLUSIVELY, too. Literally, you will never see a commercial for GoGurt or McDonalds. Disney promotes Disney, including the parks, movies, and toys. It’s even more brilliant that these ads are made to look more and more like mini-shows and segments, not commercials. Friends and I have wasted so many hours staring at that channel just because the ads and the shows blend and blur into each other so well.

      This “Hub” channel is no different. Except, to be honest, Disney’s lineup sounds a lot more entertaining. Yahtzee! Live sounds about as thrilling as “The Paint Drying Variety Hour” and “Grass Growing Week”.

  7. jason in boston says:

    I don’t really see a problem with this. Wasn’t the old model of even having Transformers and GI Joe just to sell toys?

    Was the old Disney Channel (when they used to have the real cartoons) mostly ads to get kids to want to go to Disney World / Land?

  8. Rocket says:

    This is cool with me, as long as the Transformers and G.I. Joe shows are good. :-D

  9. TouchMyMonkey says:

    If Comcast can own NBC, if Rupert Murdoch can own both the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal in New York, if ClearChannel can pretty much own all of radio, I don’t see why a toy company can’t launch a cable TV network. Or a car company. Or an insurance company. Or a drug company.

  10. Thyme for an edit button says:

    This does not seem strange to me. The Disney Afternoon of my childhood had commercials. No doubt to buy toys and see Disney movies. So?

    If parents want a “commercial-free” childhood for their kids then block the shows or get things on DVD instead of having tv.

    • KaralynK says:

      OMG I loved the Disney Afternoon. I forgot about that. Well that clinches my answer on this poll. Duck Tales? Tale Spin? Gummi Bears? Gargoyles? I’m all over that. Let’s bring back some of those shows, btw, or at least Disney – have a heart and release the other half of the Gargoyles series. I”m sooo sorry it didn’t sell as well as you think it should have but just put it out on DVD.

      • Thyme for an edit button says:

        Gargoyles was awesome!

      • bennilynn says:

        I’m fairly convinced Greg Weisman managed to somehow piss of the entire Disney Company something fierce. That’s the only explanation I can think of for why they won’t release the second half of Gargoyles on DVD. It’s very frustrating because I’d be willing to pay quite a bit for it. Right now, I just have the crappy recorded-off-the-TV versions on my computer.

        *shakes fist angrily at Disney*

      • RobHoliday says:

        I used to watch Gargoyles as an adult. I just thought it was cool that most of the voices were from the cast of Star Trek TNG.

    • PHRoG says:

      Even on DVD, you have to deal with advertisements, LOL! Can anyone say, “Forced Previews”? :D

  11. fredbiscotti says:

    The Quik Energy Chocobot Hour?

  12. GoPadge says:

    Next thing you know, the NFL will want a channel of it’s own…..

  13. brianisthegreatest says:

    If comcast can buy nbc, there probably isn’t any more evil in a toy company opening a marketing channel for kids.

  14. jcargill says:

    Why even try stopping them? If you even utter the word “regulation” you’re branded a Stalinist. And these days everything is entertainment, and at the same time, everything is advertising.

  15. LINIStittles says:

    The fact that there are people saying this shouldn’t be allowed = facepalm.

    • Southern says:

      +1

      It’s called Free Market. If they don’t make any money from the station, they’ll pull it. If they don’t have worthwhile shows on, no one will watch it. I don’t understand why anyone would care “Who” owns a TV channel. People will either watch it, or not.

  16. He says:

    Every show will have toys associated with it. It makes no difference if it’s PBS or Hasbro. If the shows are good, who cares? Nobody tried to get Pokemon canceled because it was a nintendo product.

  17. apd09 says:

    a show about people playing Yahtzee???

    How exciting can it be to watch people roll dice? I like playing Yahtzee but would NEVER sit around watching people play it in person let along watch it on TV.

    I wonder what test group told them it is a good idea for a show. I would like to tell The Hub’s CEO that I am willing to work for the network as VP of Common Sense and will tell them all truthfully whether as a consumer and as a sane person if something seems like a good idea because that show is going to lose money.

    • Vulpine says:

      You should look at the show concept before you pan it. There’s a lot more to it than just “playing yahtzee”. It’s a competitive action game show that happens to include Yahtzee as part of the challenge.

    • TerpBE says:

      In the mid-80s there was a cartoon, “Rubik, the Amazing Cube”…so why not Yahtzee?

    • gman863 says:

      Believe it or not, Yahtzee was actually made into a syndicated game show many years ago.

      As I recall, it lasted about five weeks. Your theory on people actually watching it is correct.

  18. Battlehork says:

    This should provide some serious competition for The Mattel and Mars Bar Quick Energy Chocobot Hour.

  19. mbd says:

    >The notion of a toy company owning a television channel for the sole purpose of promoting their toys is egregious practice

    You mean like Disney advertising their products on their cable channels and their ABC television network?

    You mean it’s ok for a toy to be base on a tv show, but it’s not ok for a show to be based upon a toy? The result is the same.

    In 1956 or maybe 57, Disney produced an tv show called “Disneyland”, that eventually became Walt Disney’s Wonderful World Of Color”, with the explicit intention of promoting his amusement park and movies. The show ran for decades, first on ABC, then on NBC.

    There is nothing wrong with a corporation producing tv shows or owning a cable channel. Children learn early on how to differentiate between entertainment and advertising. It’s just that some people don’t give children enough credit.

  20. Jeff_Number_3 says:

    The NFL network is nothing but a constant advertisemet for NFL tickets/merchandise/etc. This just targets kids instead of adults. Like the sketchers cartoon this is nothing new.

  21. Fight Back Against David Horowitz! says:

    I don’t really have a problem with Hasbro owning a network and using it to promote their products, but I do have a problem with such a network added to my cable/satellite lineup and being asked to pay more because of such “added value” in a system already bloated with channels I never watch.

  22. Vulpine says:

    Personally, I don’t care. Some of those old Hasbro cartoons were actually pretty good. While I’m not a parent myself, I think that toys that inspire imagination are a good thing. A lot of today’s technology came from yesterday’s imaginative kids. Let’s keep that imagination working!

  23. Vulpine says:

    Personally, I don’t care. Some of those old Hasbro cartoons were actually pretty good. While I’m not a parent myself, I think that toys that inspire imagination are a good thing. A lot of today’s technology came from yesterday’s imaginative kids. Let’s keep that imagination working!

  24. framitz says:

    If the network is locally available I will check it out and if it’s not suited for children IMHO then I will simply block the channel. Not a big deal at all.

  25. Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

    In all fairness, there ARE cartoons on there that effectively sell products for Hasbro’s own competitors. Batman Beyond, for example, is a property to which Mattel has the toy rights.

    • LastError says:

      Yeah but nobody remembers Batman Beyond, except people who either hated it or people who thought it was the best Batman animated concept, ever.

      I’m in the latter group.

  26. Travis Tubbs says:

    *picks up remote, presses Menu, selects “Block Channel”, presses OK.* Done.

  27. elephantattack says:

    GI Joe… Transformers… WHY DOESN’T THIS ALREADY EXIST! It’s just the crappy “new gen” of these shows? PASS.

  28. Kid U says:

    Newsflash: Television programming is designed to produce revenue. I’m not entirely sure why there is such an outcry over this particular issue, it seems very chicken and the egg to me. To explain; everyone knows that Hasbro and other toy companies designed toy lines (He-Man, G.I. Joe, Transformers, My Little Pony, etc.) and then made TV shows around them for kids. Lets say that is the chicken coming before the egg. Nowadays, Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel produce highly popular kid’s programs (Hannah Montana, SpongeBob) that then spawn highly profitable toy/clothing/concert revenue streams. Egg coming before the chicken. In either scenario, you can’t escape the fact that the end result of children’s TV programming is your kid asking you for a toy or shirt from their favorite show.

    Personally, I love the fact that Qubo is showing He-Man, She-Ra, and BraveStarr re-runs now. Evil toy selling schemes or not, I loved those shows as a kid.

  29. bigd738778 says:

    And cable companies own networks and movie studios. Damn idiot parents today should take care of the children and monitor what they do. I raised a Son, who is almost 20 years old, and instead of letting someone else raise my child, I did it. My wife and I took him to the Library, Museum, Nations Capital and we taught him, we didn’t let the t.v. handle his education. He could read/write at a 3rd grade level starting kindergarten but we let him watch t.v. that we thought appropriate. And yes he watched Saturday morning cartoons and loves Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles. I’m tired of these groups telling me what should and shouldn’t be ok.

  30. sopmodm14 says:

    kids could b!tch and whine all the time for toys, but they don’t pay for them. if anything, a reasonable parent could use it as another learning tool to teach them values,setting goals to get a reward or whatever

    if hasbro made a show about learning toys, i guess there’s a valid merit in it

    i wish they dissected a “my little pony” or “littlest pet shop” – veterinary science

    or

    explained suppressive fire and manuevuer tactics with gi joe figs vs star wars clone troopers or something, lol

  31. awa64 says:

    Hasbro isn’t buying a TV network so they can advertise to kids better. If they wanted to do that, it’d be more cost-effective to keep buying ad space (and funding a show here or there) on Cartoon Network or Kids’ WB or what have you.

    What Hasbro is trying to do with The Hub is turn brands like Transformers, GI Joe and My Little Pony from “toy” brands to “entertainment” brands. They want people to think of Optimus Prime alongside Superman and Captain America, rather than alongside He-Man and LEGOs.

  32. Macgyver says:

    If parents do like it, they can either change the channel, don’t put that channel on, or shut the T.V.
    It’s not that hard. Parents needs to stop complaining over stupid crap and do something else

  33. ElizabethD says:

    I was watching NCIS last night and couldn’t get over the extremely close-up lingering shot of one of the agents with a cell phone hugely labeled “SPRINT” jammed to his ear. The camera stayed on it a long time, in case anyone missed the product placement.

    Commercials are everywhere, peeps.

    • gman863 says:

      What…you’ve never watched any James Bond movies? They’re two-hour product placemnt ads interrupted occasionally by an action scene.

  34. edicius is an acquired taste says:

    The funny thing is that the new Transformers series debuting in December (Transformers: Prime) doesn’t even have any corresponding toys in the pipeline. That’s a first for Transformers – though it could be debated that Transformers: Animated almost did that with the bizarre gap between airing of the show and the delayed release of the toys.

    In any case, animated series like the more recent incarnations of Transformers aren’t exactly the 22-minute toy commercials that cartoons of their ilk used to be.

  35. kalaratri says:

    If it means they might make more of GIJOE Resolute, I’m all for it. Heck, I’d settle for just more GIJOE figures.

  36. durkzilla says:

    I call shenanigans.

    There is simply no way this “”Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood” is as innocently naive as they are making themselves out to be. This is pure and simple dirty tricks being played by the competition to cast Hasbro and their products in a negative light.

    Every television channel advertises something, even commercial-free PBS. Take a walk down the toy aisle at your local Walmart and count up how many Elmo toys there are.

  37. UnicornMaster says:

    If Fox News can have a channel promoting their political agenda I see no reason why a company can’t have entertaining cartoons and push their own products. I would watch it.

  38. jp7570-1 says:

    Nope, for the same reason KableTown (Comcast) should not be allwoed to own NBC.

  39. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    What’s the difference between this and the Disney channel?

  40. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    oh yeah, and Magic the Gathering world tournaments would be insanely popular at some locations. Like a sports bar, but for people who have lives.

  41. TakingItSeriously is a Technopile says:

    I wonder how much of Disney profits are tied to “merchandising”. Seems to me they own at least one station, no? They can own as many TV stations as they want as long as I can continue to Parental Control the hell out of my TV channels.

    My 4 year old does not watch TV on a regular basis. What he does watch is closely monitored, and consists of about 45% Public, 45% Netflix (we choose) and 10% “other”. Pretty much just Saturdays, and the occasional afternoon show.

  42. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Every cartoon that plays during the Saturday Morning time frame here has a line of toys, video games or trading cards that go along with it. I don’t see what the difference is between that and having a cable network channel dedicated to the same thing.

  43. Krang Krabowski says:

    Fushigi !!!!

  44. DustoMan says:

    So I suppose GE owns NBC because they think it would be a fun hobby. Or Westinghouse- CBS. Or Ted Turner – Cartoon Network… I could go on. It’s nothing new. Who really cares?

  45. Abradax says:

    Only if there is a law stating they show GI Joe and Transformers 24/7

  46. Package Man says:

    What do you mean “Allowed”? It’s a free country with a (mostly) free market, of course they should be allowed to.

  47. UniComp says:

    I wish there was a Hasbro channel when I was a kid…

  48. LastError says:

    My childhood was full of shows that were basically toy ads…. and look back on those days now and look at what they offer to kids today and wonder where it all went horribly wrong.

    The answer is, it went wrong when they began cracking down on anything that might be remotely interesting or fun, instead forcing it to all be educational as if that would somehow make up for failings of the schools or parents to teach their kids.

  49. gman863 says:

    This is basically a chicken-or-egg question: If Hasbro is getting dissed for creating TV shows around existing product lines, do we next go after Children’s Television Workshop and PBS under the theory that Elmo’s debut on Sesame Street was a conspiracy to sell millions of “Tickle Me Elmo” dolls?

  50. duncanblackthorne says:

    It’s advertising, and I think it’s reprehensible. Some years ago there was some controversy over kid’s cartoons and the commercial breaks in them, that the kids (and many adults!) couldn’t tell the difference between the cartoon and the commercials. They made them add a bumper between the show and the commercials so everyone would be clear about it. Now we’re more or less going to allow a toy and game manufacturer to not just blur the line between entertainment and ads, but mix them thoroughly in a blender? I don’t think so.

    For the record, I’m also very much against Comcast buying NBC. No good will come of this! You thought Heroes was bad? Just wait and see what kind of crap Comcast will serve up, and shove down your throat!

    Also, “It’s up to parents to monitor their kids” has worked so well the last few decades, hasn’t it? If you’re not getting it, I’m being sarcastic. The average dim-witted parent still uses the TV as a babysitter and doesn’t pay any attention to what their kids are watching, not any more than they pay attention to what (or how much!) video games they’re playing. I wish we lived in a world where these things didn’t have to be at least somewhat regulated, but until everyone involved can act responsibly, somebody’s got to do it — and for the record, I resent things like this having to be monitored because it almost invariably means that I, as a single adult with no children, end up living in a childproofed, non-adult-friendly world that bores me to tears.

  51. DustoMan says:

    So this channel starts up tomorrow and this is what their primetime schedule looks like for this week:

    7PM CST: Family Ties (1 hour)
    8PM: The Wonder Years
    8:30PM: Doogie Howser, M.D.
    9:00PM: Happy Days (1 hour)

    Yes, how DARE they use these shows to advertise to our kids! :rollseyes