• ABC “Family” Is No More

    by  • October 8, 2015 • Cable Choice, Sex • 7 Comments


    Earlier this week, the so-called ABC “Family” network announced it was changing its name.

    The network, which began its existence in 1988 as the CBN Family Channel under televangelist Pat Robertson, changed hands a decade later and briefly became Fox Family, before being sold to Disney in 2001 and becoming ABC Family.

    However, through most of its existence, the channel was far from what most would consider a “family” network. Disney’s original plan was to rename the channel “XYZ” (sort of the “other side” of ABC). However, it was believed that one of the conditions of the original sale was that the network always had to have the word “family” in its name.

    In spite of its name, ABC Family worked overtime to distance itself from the “family” concept. The channel’s most notable early success was The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which glorified teen sex and divorce. In time, the network began airing even “edgier” programming, and moved to mocking its own name with the tagline, “A New Kind of Family.

    But now, Disney has finally found a way to change the network’s name. Beginning January 1, 2016, the network will be called “Freeform.” Instead of millennials, the network will seek to attract even younger viewers, whom network executives are calling “becomers”: “those who are navigating the time in life when they experience the most firsts – first car, first apartment, first job, first love, first heartbreak.”

    The network will begin promoting the new name immediately, while the new logo will be unveiled in a few months.  While the fact that young teens are going to be targeted by the network’s increasingly sexual content is unfortunate, at least parents will no longer be misled by the word “Family” in the channel’s title.



    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    7 Responses to ABC “Family” Is No More

    1. Matt Norcross
      October 8, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      I’m glad ABC Family is changing its name, the “Family” aspect has been absent for too long. People are watching TV much less these days, preferring to go to Netflix or Hulu for content. So, if a major cable network wants to remain viable, it has to live up to its name. You can’t just walk away from potential customers.

    2. Joanne
      October 10, 2015 at 11:46 am

      I suggest that a much better and more appropriate name than “Freeform” would be “Free-fall”. I am so very glad that there are alternatives like Netflix or Hulu that can be watched instead. Haven’t watched broadcast, cable or satellite TV in years and after a short time I can’t say that I’ve missed it all that much. Saved about $100 a month in cable fees too.

    3. Deanna Plyler
      October 10, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      You would think with the lack of family friendly shows, that one would be a gold mine.
      But, if the content is not truly family oriented, and cant be trusted, I am glad the Family
      is being taken from the name. Now, I wish they would change The game show “Family
      Fued” to another name. It has become one on the most disgusting shows with the
      vulgar and inappropriate questions.

    4. Jill Dowd
      January 1, 2016 at 10:38 pm

      My children (ages 9 & 11) have been watching ABC Family over winter break which has been running several children shows as part of their 25 Days of Christmas & Princess Dairies (most with rating TV G). It is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE that they are promoting/advertising for shows such as Recovery Road and Pretty Little Liars with inappropriate content during these shows for children. What is even more deplorable is that you are owned by DISNEY ABC Cable Networks. I am flabbergasted that an affiliate of Disney would want to drop the word FAMILY so they can target a more mature audience. I understand changing the name to FREEFORM gives them the ability to target an older population (ages 14-34), but what about the children watching ABC Family programming through January 12th? It is NOT okay for you to promote these shows when under age children are watching. I tried contacting ABC directly to voice a complaint and received an automated response. There has to be someone out there to fight for what is decent and right. I will not stand idly by. I have filed a complaint with the FCC but doubt little will come of that. I have always been a supporter of Disney and all that it stands for. It is a very sad day when I have to stand firm against something I have believed in for so long.

      • Heather
        June 19, 2016 at 9:25 pm

        Jill, I’m wondering if you ever got any response on this issue. I am floored at the content of the commercials they are showing during Finding Nemo, a G rated movie. My 4 & 10 year old are watching and the commercials for such shows as “Dead of Summer” are graphic and disturbing.

        • Jennifer klima
          September 16, 2016 at 9:47 pm

          Oh my gosh! Yes we had to turn the channel tonight while watching G-rated WallE!!!!
          . Those horribly graphic and scary and bloody commercials for dead of summer are terrifying to a two year old kid who’s just trying to watch a cute movie!!!!

          What are they thinking? This is not a once in awhile thing, it happens over and over. We dvr’d Monsters University and I have to sit there to fast-forward through the commercials because they repeatedly advertised that show guilt about the girl murdering her roommate overseas. It’s a freaking rated G kids movie for heaven sakes. Who do they think they’re advertising to?????

    5. H
      June 19, 2016 at 7:09 am

      This channel is not for young eyes. They still are playing Disney movies for the little ones but their commercials are outrageous for young minds to see. What is their intentions? Why would u put on a Disney cartoon,then have commercials with blood and sex? Changing their name does nothing. They are a horrible t.v. station…..

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