Nickelodeon's Brand Name Also Includes Teenage Pregnancy

Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant -- and we can all be thankful she is a healthy 16-year-old. Now industry executives wonder about the health of the Nickelodeon brand name, now that Spears continues as a star of its teen show, "Zoey 101."

TV critics have said keeping Spears around symbolizes the network's approval of under-age pregnancy, and that anything Spears sells will therefore be tainted. For its part, Nickelodeon is considering a teen pregnancy special in light of the news. In a statement, Nickelodeon was respectful and concerned over Spears' health -- but it offered nothing in the way of a pullback of the show.
 
Kids' channels always walk the fine line of teacher/baby sitter/home entertainer/moralist.  But we shouldn't be looking to them as the lone voice in child upbringing. They are an entertainment choice, an option.  They are not the lone school in the neighborhood.

Surely some parents who let their daughters watch  "Zoey 101" are now going to reconsider it. No doubt tweens ages 12 to 16 -- who are the main viewers of the show -- already know about the news (but possibly not all the ramifications of being pregnant).

Will national advertisers look at Nickelodeon or Zoey the same way again? Maybe not. Even then, "Zoey 101" was a bit more grown up, more teen than tween.

It's the modern world, but it doesn't seem that Nickelodeon is running from it -- just the way parents might not run in the unfortunate event that their teenager happens to get pregnant.

We'd rather all wait for our children to become parents when they have a mature enough mind, as well as being able to handle the economic and other responsibilities that go with it.

But for a TV network, there is no waiting. Stuff just happens. The show completed production on its fourth and final season in September, and new episodes are still scheduled to air through 2008.

That means TV marketing for the show will continue, including, no doubt, much more press for Nickelodeon and "Zoey" -- whether the network wants it or not.

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