MORE VIOLENCE is coming to television. But the networks say
they're trying to examine the issue, not exploit it.
In news specials, movies, series - both dramas and comedies -
and public service messages, TV networks are holding a
crime-battered America up to the light.
Cynics call it an obvious attempt to blunt criticism of
television's own violent instincts and to derail efforts to
legislate TV gore. Others say the networks are only adding to the
emotional overload felt by many.
But executives at a recent gathering of the Television Critics
Association said the programs are justified and their motives pure.
"I think violence is such an overwhelmingly important topic and
issue facing America that I don't think we come anywhere close to
having done enough," said CBS News President Eric Ober.
"We at Fox Broadcasting are trying to be part of the solution
to the problem," said its chairman, Lucie Salhany. "We're not going
to simply avoid dealing with violent issues, as some critics
propose. I believe we have to deal with problems in order to solve
Ober announced a three-hour "CBS Reports" news special on
violence, a documentary by film makers Paul and Holly Fine that is
scheduled to air later this year.
The prime-time special is not intended simply to rehash the
alarming rise in crime, he said; the goal is to examine the impact
on individuals and find answers.
"Reporting on violence is half the story," Ober said. "I think
that looking for solutions to it is the story that will help
On the series side, the CBS drama "Picket Fences" offered a
recent episode that showed how the easy availability of firearms
can have a tragic impact on children.
CBS also is planning a prime-time airing of "Kids Killing
Kids," a new one-hour show initially commissioned as a daytime "CBS
"Kids Killing Kids" will offer a series of vignettes of
children in trouble, such as a suicidal teen-ager or a youth who
wants a weapon because of gang harassment.
The program will offer two resolutions of each problem, one
involving violence and the other a nonviolent alternative. A
broadcast date was not announced.
Salhany said Fox will join with CBS in airing the program in a
rare network teaming. The networks also are sponsoring formation of
a national coalition against violence, linking broadcasters with
community groups, she said. …