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Boston-based children's group believes it ticked off Disney, paid the price

Media reports published this month say a Boston-based child advocacy group believes they have been forced out of their long-time headquarters because of pressure from Disney. Reports in both The New York Times and The Valley Advocate claim the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood believes it lost its lease in the Judge Baker Children's Center, a Harvard-affiliated children's mental health center, because Disney was unhappy with the group's activities and successfully convinced Judge Baker officials to evict them.

The CCFC, which advocates for children's media free of commercial influence, was the group responsible for successfully complaining that the Baby Einstein Company was marketing products as educational for babies when there was no evidence to indicate babies were learning anything from viewing their DVDs. Baby Einstein, which is owned by Disney, removed the word 'educational' from its products and was also forced to offer refunds of $15.99 for Baby Einstein DVDs that consumers chose to return (with a maximum of four per household), after they were threatened with a class-action lawsuit.

CCFC officials claim only weeks after the Baby Einstein victory was announced, they were informed that they needed to leave the Judge Baker Center, which is located on Parker Hill Avenue in Boston.  The group has a press release on their site about the move, which states:

"At the height of the media flurry about the refunds, representatives from Disney contacted JBCC, and our relationship with the Center was changed irrevocably. We were pressured to stop talking to the press about Baby Einstein. Questions were raised about whether CCFC’s mission was appropriate for a JBCC program. Finally, in January, we were told that we had to leave—quickly. And, for our remaining time under JBCC’s auspices, we were forbidden from conducting any advocacy aimed at a specific corporation or product. You may have noticed that you haven’t heard from us in a while."

The Judge Baker Children Center's president, John Wesiz, wrote a letter to the NYT that states "the campaign's advocacy tactics have raised concerns about risk to the center and our mission. Initiating legal actions against corporations requires a legal and fact-checking infrastructure that our small center lacks."

The CCFC is now headquartered in another Boston location at Third Sector New England, a group that helps support nonprofit organizations.

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