Peggy Charren, Children’s Advocate and Television Pioneer, Dead at 86

She helped found Action for Children’s Television, which paved the way for kids to get fewer harmful commercials and more educational programming

Getty Images

Peggy Charren, a children’s advocate and pioneer in kids’ programming, has died. She was 86.

Charren had suffered from vascular dementia in later years, according to media reports. At the time of her death she was living in a Dedham, Massachusetts retirement community with her husband Stanley, who is a retired businessman and engineer.

One of her most notable achievements was co-founding Action for Children’s Television in 1968, a grass roots organization which was dedicated to curbing harmful advertising aimed at children and increasing the amount of educational programming on TV.

At the pinnacle of its influence, ACT had 20,000 members. In 1990, the FCC enacted the Children’s Television Act, which required broadcast stations that offer children’s TV programming to also provide “core” educational programming.

Charren disbanded the organization in 1992, saying ACT had accomplished all of its objectives in helping the CTA get enacted.

She also fought passionately to overturn network bans on “indecent” programming. “Too often, we try to protect children by doing in free speech,” she said following a 1995 court ruling which upheld a ban on certain broadcast programming. “Indecency to some people might be sex education, and that’s the problem.”

Charren received a Peabody Award in 1991 and a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995.

“[She] was TVs first true kids’ advocate and someone who we profoundly respected,” Nickelodeon said in a statement obtained by TheWrap. “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.”

“[Her] 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,” added a spokesperson from Disney Channels Worldwide.

Peggy Charren was 86.