NCC Opposes TV Violence

Article excerpt

CITIZENS GROUPS, alarmed by the growing violence both on the television screen and in the streets, are mounting a campaign to curb TV's increasingly graphic depictions of murder, mutilation and mayhem. In the forefront of the effort is the National Council of Churches, which for the past 25 years has supported congressional efforts to halt the escalating violence on television. Despite those efforts, however, "the situation has never improved but only gotten worse," according to communications expert William F. Fore of Yale Divinity School.

Fore made his comments in testimony June 8 at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on violence in television called by Senator Kent Conrad (D., N.D.). The hearing was part of a series being jointly held by two subcommittees -- one on juvenile justice, headed by Conrad, and another on the Constitution, headed by Senator Paul Simon (D., Ill.). The hearings are serving as oversight on the use of the Television Violence Act, adopted in 1990, which waived antitrust laws for three years to allow Hollywood and the TV industry to try voluntary self-regulation to reduce TV violence.

Fore maintained that not only is self-regulation not working but that there is a growing body of research, dating as far back as die 1969 National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, which demonstrates "a causal relationship between violence in television and film and violence in real life." He said that despite promises by the industry to clean up its act, an annual Violence Profile conducted by Dean George Gerbner of the Annenberg School of Communications shows there has been no significant change in the high levels of TV violence throughout the |60s, |70s and |80s. Moreover, "the 1992 profile shows an increase in violence during early evening hours," Fore said.

J. Martin Bailey, an associate general secretary of the 32-communion NCC, recently announced that the agency's Department of Communication is joining the Citizens' Task Force on Television Violence. …