Seeing red rather than tickled pink

The Cartoon Network’s latest news is anything but fun. The goal of its Tickle U lineup, a set of programs aimed at preschoolers, is to teach youngsters how to laugh. Under this thinking, humor is a skill babies and toddlers are unable to learn on their own without TV. We don’t buy it. Nor does the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which thinks marketers are simply trying to get access to America’s babies before they hit the classroom. There will the typical array of ads during programs, of course. Deals have been struck licensing characters to push toys, games, food and clothing. And then there is the odd business of hospitals partnering with Tickle U to hold humor workshops to introduce children and parents to the characters in the programming. Tickle U deserves a Mr. Yuck sticker. That’s the one used by the National Capital Poison Center to warn kids when a product contains dangerous chemicals. In this case, the sticker works for programming as well.

—Posted by Wendy Melillo