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Television stations catering to toddlers, children and adolescents agreed on a broadcasting ethics code yesterday with the Cable and Satellite Broadcast Council. The code will also be applied to the channels' Web sites, marking the first time in Israel that Internet content has been voluntarily placed under regulation by those running Web sites.

All the producers and stations focusing on children's programming signed on to the code, which was initiated by the broadcast council.

Representatives of all the major stations targeting children and young people were at the meeting: the Children's Channel, Luli, Logi, Hop!, Junior, Baby, Jetix, Yesababa and Nickelodeon.

Two months ago, council chairman Nitzan Hen met with representatives from the stations to draft the code. Several meetings were held to discuss issues to promote during broadcasts and which to avoid.

At last week's meeting, the various broadcasting bodies unanimously decided to adopt the agreement drafted by Dr. Dafna Lemish in 2002, which calls on broadcasters to present "a desirable social world based on principles of human rights, tolerance for the other, freedom of religion and conscience, and respect for human beings and their freedom."

According to these criteria, broadcasts will portray a multicultural world and avoid inappropriate representations of violence and sex. Stereotypical representations of certain communities will also be avoided, as well as the encouragement of consumerism and materialism.

As the stations are adopting the regulations voluntarily, steps for its enforcement have yet to be laid out. Still, the broadcasting organizations have agreed to establish a supervisory committee for implementing the agreement composed of management representatives from the Children's Channel and Hop!, as well as the broadcast council chairman.

The supervisory committee will deliberate over public complaints about violations of the ethics code.

"The council wants to see the children's stations and the media activities related to them as 'protected areas' for young audiences, and as a responsible alternative to general television programming," said Hen.

"In that way we can raise parents' trust and confidence about the content their children are exposed to on the channels for children and youth, and on those stations' Web sites."