A television channel aimed at the very youngest US viewers will help parents interact with their children, claims the marketing boss of BabyFirstTV.

The service, launched by News Corporation-controlled satellite provider DirecTV, is "completely safe, commercial-free and [with] appropriate content," avers evp for business development and marketing Sharon Rechter.

The ad-free channel is debuting with 250 hours of content, 80% of it original, according to Rechter. The service, which costs $9.99 (€7.73; £5.26) a month is also offering content from popular 'educational' DVDs, as well as shows based on award-winning books.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, however, is less than enthusiastic about the prospect. It says babies under the age of two should not watch TV or videos at all, and that learning to talk and play with others is more important.

Seattle doctor Donald Shifrin, chairman of the academy committee that studies television and children, urged parents to exercise prudence and to view the new TV options skeptically.

He comments: "Sesame Street has opened a Pandora's box by legitimizing the idea that TV needs to be developed for this demographic. We're not the nation's nanny, but we do want to provide a little balance — we don't want to make TV the default entertainer for children."

Ripostes Rechter: "If a baby is watching TV, let's put them in front of appropriate content. At the end of the day, parents make the decisions."

Data sourced from USA Today.com; additional content by WARC staff