The very first TV show for babies (up to 18 months) I ever saw was here at PRIX JEUNESSE, as far back as 1988. "Tik Tak," from Belgium, was five minutes, daily at 5:55 pm, meant to give parents five minutes to prepare dinner (does that sound familiar to today's debates?). It consisted of colorful images and black and white geometrics, spinning and bouncing and moving. It was simple, with no vast claims of educational value, just a daily engaging TV break.
As we look for information on the efficacy (or lack thereof) of baby TV, perhaps we need to look farther afield. Japan's public broadcaster, NHK, has been doing baby programming for 20 years, and its representatives say they have an extensive research library. Their lead researcher will be in the UK for the July Showcomotion conference, and coming to the US after that; I'll be in Japan for the long-running Japan Prize, so I hope to have a chance to examine their findings on baby TV.