Gender neutral in a sex-specific world.

Position:Kid's Channels
 
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Over the past few years, there has been an effort by many executives to broaden their demos by adopting a new mantra: "We are trying to become a little more gender neutral," said Betsy McGowen, Kids' WB general manager.

"I'm guessing that we're 80-85 percent boy right now and we'd like to be 60 percent boy and 40 percent girl," McGowen said. "The programming for the Fall is already in place so we obviously aren't changing any of that. But in the last few scripts we've put in the process since I've come on board, we've included a little humor and are looking for things like that."

Al Kahn, Chairman of 4Kids Entertainment, which produces Fox's Saturday morning action cartoon block, 4KidsTV, admitted that gearing solely toward boys, as Fox has traditionally done, is not smart business. "We had a lot of tweaking to do. We are putting in a girls hour. I should say, two shows starring girls--Tokyo Mew-Mew and Winx Club. Whether or not that's a girls' hour is yet to be known.

"The reason for that block was two-fold: to get a better girl comp, but also because ABC on Saturdays is giving up that 8-9 a.m. slot to go with Good Morning America. So, because ABC is really a girls' block, we thought the strategy was appropriate. We're hopefully adding a higher level of kid friendly programming and the combination of these [things] will have a positive effect."

Kahn said that his company's long-term goal always was to be more gender neutral, despite the action-heavy theme. "Our thought process was always to get all the different segments--we want to be in pre-school, we want to be in girls, we want to be in boys. The question was: Where do they air? Some of these things had been warehoused, pending a place that would make sense for them to air," he said. "We also sell programming to other networks, so we were going to pitch some of these programs to other nets which had the appropriate demography, But obviously when the ABC situation was announced, we felt that since we get such a low girl viewership it made sense to put the girls show onto the block as long as they sustained the action-adventure motif."

Kahn explained his company's business strategy: "Our road is more toward marketing concepts we believe have ancillary value off network, because we do a lot of licensing. If you look at it From that perspective, you are only servicing half the kids' population [with boyheavy fare]. So, from a strategic position, we were not servicing half the target...

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