Watch out when they say ''equity,'' how to revive the unions, a time for indecency, and other matters. MORE KIDVID CAPERS
By DANIEL SELIGMAN REPORTER ASSOCIATE Patty de Llosa

(FORTUNE Magazine) – In the ludicrous congressional hearings that recently culminated in House and Senate passage of the Children's Television Act, our own favorite moment was supplied by Senator J. James Exon, Democrat of Nebraska. A witness had recently finished testifying that young children, being innocent, are uniquely susceptible to TV advertising. Exon obviously sparked to this thought. ''On more than one occasion,'' he volunteered, ''my grandchildren, under 4 years of age, have stood up and asked for silence in the room when ((the station)) went to a commercial.'' Whether the Exon adults actually zipper their lips in the situation described was regrettably not specified. Maybe they ask for a recorded vote. In any case, the point of the Senator's story was clear enough: Kids can be protected from commercials only by passing laws like the Children's Television Act. Viewed as so obviously right and necessary and lovable that objection was unthinkable, the act sailed through both houses with no debate and not one dissenting vote, always a sure sign that the solons are doing something extra- dopey. Heavily promoted by an organization called Action for Children's Television (ACT), the act does several things. It puts time limits on commercials that run with children's programs: a maximum of 12 minutes an hour on weekdays and 10 1/2 minutes on weekends. It also requires the Federal Communications Commission, in deciding whether to renew station licenses, to evaluate the quality of children's programming. ACT has been promoting its ''kidvid'' message in Washington for 20 years, and has often scored in Congress. In 1988 our last Reaganite President vetoed a bill similar to the latest one, on the ground that the Constitution does not allow the government to tell broadcasters what to disseminate on the airwaves. ACT naturally derided Reagan's rationale, but a fair number of First Amendment hawks, including liberals like Floyd Abrams, applauded the President's decision. During the Reagan years, the FCC turned against the regulation of children's programming. Its governing ideas on the matter: that the marketplace ought to decide which children's programs the country wanted, that parents ought to control their children, and that commercialism wasn't necessarily evil. Ah, Reaganism. The present Administration has also expressed misgivings about the free speech angle. Nevertheless, the morning line says that George will probably let the bill become law, which he can do without affixing his signature to it, thereby managing to register a principled protest while compromising his principles. Ah, Bushism. Readers with long memories and not much else to think about will recall that your servant has been hooting at ACT boss Peggy Charren for many a moon. We have been more or less alone in treating the lady unsympathetically, since her ) self-defined cause -- warring on commercial exploitation of kids -- sounds so lovable to your average journalist. To be sure, the media have not yet come to grips with the role played by ACT and Peggy on another front. The role is really quite astonishing. It seems that ACT has a new cause: defending the rights of broadcasters to run obscene and pornographic material on radio and TV. To be specific: In 1987 the FCC issued a ban on ''indecent'' programming before midnight. The time restriction was, of course, selected to ensure that children were not exposed to indecency (defined by the FCC as ''language that describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory activities or organs''). This time ACT turned out to be concerned about free speech, and it opposed the ban. It has also been out front in attacking a current FCC proposal to extend the ban through 24 hours. The commission argues that some children are just about always in the audience. Peggy Charren ridicules this contention. In a somewhat amazing interview with Keeping Up, she stated firmly: ''Protecting children from indecency is the job of the parents.'' Is she suddenly converting to Reaganism?aOr just reflexively assuming that opposition to censorship is always ''progressive''? Or -- a possibility not to be excluded -- assuming that no amount of dirtiness on the tube could possibly be as offensive as commercialism?