Children's Media Foundation Falsely Accused

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Current.org (May 26) alleged that CMF and its president, Michael Kinsell, "falsely claimed association with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Family Communications (FCI), the company Rogers founded." According to Kinsell, "PBS and FCI never had anything to do with this event. PBS has never contacted CMF or any representative regarding the award ceremony and concert."

falsely claimed association with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Family Communications (FCI), the company Rogers founded.

On Sunday, May 31, the Children's Media Foundation (CMF) will posthumously present its First Annual Children's Hero Award to Fred "Mister" Rogers at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. Rogers, an icon of children's television, created and hosted a nationally televised program for 40 years. CMF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in San Diego that supports children's programing will annually present an award to an individual whose life and work benefits young children. In addition to the award, the evening includes a concert featuring celebrity performers and a postconcert reception.

Current.org (May 26) alleged that CMF and its president, Michael Kinsell, "falsely claimed association with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Family Communications (FCI), the company Rogers founded." According to Kinsell, "PBS and FCI never had anything to do with this event. PBS has never contacted CMF or any representative regarding the award ceremony
and concert."

A rumor may have developed from an idea from CMF to film and later broadcast the event. To do so would have required an agreement with the celebrities participating to ensure that the program would not air on a commercial network. However, no agreement ever existed regarding the filming or airing of the event, and PBS was never involved in considering this idea. The award and concert is funded solely by CMF.

Contrary to published allegations, to date, neither CMF nor Kinsell has received "numerous cease and desist" letters from FCI or notification of a complaint filed with the State Attorney General, who does not acknowledge the receipt of any claim.

Kinsell said, "When CMF's attorney first contacted FCI in December 2008 to inform the Rogers' organization of its plan to present Rogers with its first children's hero award, Bill Isler, FCI president, told CMF's attorney, 'We will contact you if we have any questions or concerns.' Since then, we have received nothing from FCI." Late today, a complaint letter was faxed to CMF, purportedly by a law firm representing PBS and FCI.

"At no point," Kinsell stated, "did PBS or Isler contact CMF or its attorney, Andy Abrams, regarding any complaint. I'm disappointed that FCI would object so loudly without first contacting CMF's legal representation. If there were a problem, it would have been addressed immediately. Neither PBS nor FCI has helped or supported CMF; except for today's fax, neither has CMF received an inquiry or complaint from either party."

Kinsell added, "Fred Rogers is merely the recipient of this award. Next year it will be someone else. I'm sorry if FCI or PBS is upset because Rogers is receiving this award along with the cash donation to their foundation, and especially disappointed that they have refused to accept it. "

The Children's Hero Award show is proceeding as scheduled, and is expected to sellout by Friday.

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