Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cable TV Will Pay for Violence Study but Results May Not Affect Programming

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cable TV Will Pay for Violence Study but Results May Not Affect Programming

Article excerpt

The cable television industry will finance a three-year, $3.6 million study of television violence beginning this fall. But don't expect to see any changes soon on small screens near you.

First, researchers from four participating universities must agree on what constitutes "an act of violence." And once they have defined what violence is, they must work out an elaborate system that will allow them to "distinguish the nature of each violent act" within the context of the program on which it occurred, according to an outline of the study.

The first big meeting to begin that process will not be held until September. And the group's first report on violence in the coming television season will not be released until the fall of 1995.

Ed Donnerstein, a psychology and communications professor at the University of California, said the "beauty of the project is that it will begin an open dialogue" among academics and the writers, directors and programmers who put shows on the air.

But that "dialogue" may leave parents and average television watchers on the sidelines, acknowledged Marcy Kelly, president of the nonprofit group that is overseeing the study.

"The report is being developed for the National Cable Television Association to help them make decisions about future programming," she said. "This document will be released to the public, but it probably won't be something parents will find that easy to use."

There is no guarantee, for example, that the study will single out particularly violent televisions shows by name.

Nonetheless, Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., praised the cable industry Tuesday at a news conference outlining the violence study. "This is not a Band-Aid," said Simon, a vocal critic of television violence. "This is real."

He said he expected announcement of a similar study within the next month by broadcast networks, which still control as much as three-quarters of the television market.

The cable industry study will be overseen by Mediascope, which was set up in 1992 to promote serious depictions of social issues in the media. …

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