It was only a matter of time before an organization such as the Southeast Asian Foundation for Children and Television (original name upon inception was Southeast Asian Foundation for Children's Television) had to be created.
First, there was growing clamor among parents, not only in the Philippines but in all of Asia, for more child-sensitive TV programs as well as programs that helped define to children what it was to be Asian.
Second, the people running the TV networks in the Philippines, even in Southeast Asia are parents themselves, torn between raking in profit and delighting the stockholders on one side and ensuring that their children had a health media diet, on the other.
Third, virtually half the population of Southeast Asia was composed of children, or persons under 18. In the Philippines, it was officially pegged at 47%.
Finally, with the oftentimes fractious relationship among TV networks, time was ripe for a truce when it came to children.
Hence, an aggrupation of all terrestial, free to air as well as cable television operators was convened with ABS-CBN'S Gina Lopez as the first president. Lopez was then at the throes of shoring up national interest in educational television and was aghast at the behavior of many major TV networks in the West who defiend children's TV simply as those they produced and syndicated from the First World.
A national summit on children and television was held in Manila after staging three vital consultations in the major islands. The advocacy group was soon in business, with the help of founding partners Panasonic, Goldilocks, Purefoods and Mister Donut.
Three years after, then vice-president Edgardo Roces (representing Associated Broadcasting Corporation), was elected president, and has been the longest serving chief executive since. Lopez's co-founder, Mag Cruz Hatol is still the Secretary General and remains the chief engineer since the foundation's formal creation in 1997.
The organization has evolved into a major advocacy league, instructing parents about the perils and advantages of television, advising them to be prudent in their usage of the medium and smart in their choice of programs to view because children are always around.
The foundatio is now among the vanguards of television literacy in a country that regards the television set as the chief appliance, surrogate parent and baby sitter and main source of entertainment and information at home.
It is widely known as the ANAK TV group (anak-child), for the innovative feedback strategy that it employs in its constante excursions in the countryside where the masses tune in to television with excess and impunity.
The SEAFCTV (popularly known as the Anak TV group) is chiefly an advocacy organization that promotes media literacy, particularly television literacy, and pushes the agenda for child-sensitive, family-friendly television in the Philippines.
It does so by staging forums, symposia and consultative meetings in village halls, schools, parishes, government centers, churches and many other unorthodox places like inter-island vessels and basketball gyms. The main targets are parents who grew up with meager media education background and who suddenly found themselves unprepared and confronted with a lot of communication technology and beguiled by massive doses of entertainment television.
It is also the parent sector, besides the church, that leads the angry crowd in castigating television stations for the programs dished out and which are in turn patronized, sometimes mindlessly, by children.
A board consisting of elected officers and members run the foundation through a Secretariat led by the Secretary General. There are six non-broadcast members in the board and nine representing the various TV stations and cable operators. It is a collegial body that meets cordially to discuss policies, thrusts and programs and at the end of the year lends its imprimatur on the choices of family-friendly TV programs made by the people through the Anak TV jury screenings.
The foundation relies on the goodwill support of its corporate partners who believe in the advocacy. It aims to steer clear of politics, commercial, charity and religious activities and aims to be a strategic partner of education and child welfare programs.
Messages about the advocacy are circulated through print and broadcast media as well as through the internet. It runs a weekly column in Manila Bulleting (Youth Page) and produces public service plugs to advance messages related to responsible television.
In addition to forums and jury screenings, SEAFCTV holds video bars and discussions for children, a national video contest for kids, occasional monitoring programs and researches, polls and surveys, youth programs and exchanges as well as on the job trainingn schemes. it sustains a small active army of youth volunteers poised to enter the broadcasting industry.