Simon To Head ANA Family Alliance

Ben Simon

The group formerly known as the Family Friendly Programming Forum, which seeks to encourage content with more of a multigenerational appeal, has tapped a Wal-Mart executive as a new co-chair.

Renamed the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) Alliance for Family Entertainment last year, Ben Simon, Wal-Mart's director of brand marketing, takes on the new role.

He replaces Carole Millsaps, who left FedEx this year, and joins Pat Gentile of Procter & Gamble Productions, in guiding the Alliance.

Some 40 leading advertisers form the group, which among other things seeds script development -- a process that has helped develop series such as "Friday Night Lights" and "Everybody Hates Chris." It also lobbies networks to offer programming that families can view together, with the carrot that their ad dollars may follow.

The Alliance says its membership accounts for about 30% of all U.S. TV spending. Since its 1998 founding, its mission has been expanded to encourage family-friendly entertainment on platforms beyond TV.

Earlier this year, it released research showing that "effectiveness increased 30%" when ads ran in "a family-oriented show" versus placement in "an adult-oriented" one.

New co-chair Simon states: "Families, especially moms, play a key role in the future of entertainment. We recognize that her entertainment needs are not being met and are taking a lead role [in] working with network partners and content providers to ensure a greater number of options exist in the marketplace."

The Family Friendly Programming Forum debuted in 1998 with seven advertisers as charter members. The group says it has helped bring more than 20 programs to prime-time lineups.

It has granted 58 scholarships to universities for students that may become scriptwriters. The goal is a generation that can produce shows such as "7th Heaven."

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