Do you have special TV programmes for children and what do you think of the effect TV has on the younger generation in general?

Grigori Reznichenko ::: Young people in the USSR. Answers to questions

The USSR devotes more TV time than any other European country to programmes designed specially for children-about 100 hours a month. There is one drawback to devoting more and more time to such programmes; namely, children will for that time be glued to the TV screen. But it is argued that it is better for boys and girls to watch pro­grammes specially intended for them than those for adults. Here it should be pointed out, however, that even if they do watch adult films they will not see what children in the West may see on the home screen-violence, erotic scenes, etc. Such things are barred from the Soviet screen.

The influence of TV on children is a problem com­mon to all developed countries, and the Soviet Union is no exception. According to sociologists' surveys, almost 90 per cent of schoolchildren spend their free time watching TV. To produce programmes that are interesting and informative is not a simple task. We can't say that we have solved this problem. But at least a great deal is being done.

The Central TV Station in Moscow produces pro­grammes for children and teenagers (from three to seventeen years of age). Naturally, these program­mes vary in form and content. They are broadcast each day on all channels and each age group will find its own special programme.

Sociologists estimate that a teenager spends be­tween 1.5 and four hours a day watching TV. So those who write and produce programmes for chil­dren try to make sure that their viewers are not turned into passive watchers; their aim is to encour­age the youngsters to do something useful, to do something good. One programme serving this end consists of interviews conducted by young corres- pondents-ordinary boys and girls-with prominent public figures including cosmonauts, workers, flyers, collective farmers, scientists and athletes. These are informal, unrehearsed programmes, with the chil­dren often posing the most unexpected questions.

Each month young viewers are invited to take part in contests on such programmes as "A Happy Start" and Full Speed Ahead, Boys!", or in drawing con­tests (the best works sent in by youngsters are later shown on TV).

Top actors, poets and writers take part in chil­dren's programmes. One of the best known is the Musical Appreciation series conducted by the fa­mous composer Dmitri Kabalevski, who has a real gift for imparting his love of music to his audience.

Educational TV is advancing rapidly. Its program­mes cover 17 school and college subjects, as well as 13 other topics ranging from space to chess prob­lems. Foreign languages-English, German, French and Spanish-are taught on TV. Among the 950 edu­cational TV programmes broadcast each month, spe­cial mention should be made of the programme for the tiny tots called "ABC". Originally designed to help the little ones learn to read, the programme unexpectedly came to attract a large number of adults, who are apparently entranced by the pro­ducer s sense of humour and ingenuity.

The task of the children's departments of TV is to help bring up harmoniously developed individ­uals. This poses many problems, but the staff has the help of scientists in working out the right meth­ods and in planning programmes. One evidence of their success is the large number of letters received from viewers. Sometimes the fan mail is so heavy that the post office has to assign a special postman to the job of delivering the letters to the TV centre. In 1977, the programme "The Alarm Clock" alone received 107,109 letters.

Children sent not only letters but also telegrams. One sent by a group of young viewers to their fa­vourite narrator read: "We wish you the best of health and please don't go away on holiday". Such appreciation surely makes the whole effort worth­while.