Cable Voices against Violence 51 Networks Join in Programming Initiative That Aims at Change
Kate O'Hare Tribune Media Services, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
`THE TRUTH is," says journalist and TV producer Linda Ellerbee, "that unless you're not watching it, you don't need 3,000 studies to tell you television is too violent."
When President Bill Clinton, Attorney Gen. Janet Reno, Illinois Sen. Paul Simon and a bipartisan group of congressional leaders spoke out against violence in the media, the industry listened.
But what exactly should be done has been a source of hot debate ever since. Does it mean government regulation, even censorship? Does it mean self-censorship within the industry? Does it mean using technology to help parents screen out violent shows?
Nobody seems to have a definitive answer, but the time appears to have come for producers and broadcasters to start addressing the question of violence.
Starting in 1993, cable programmers began to sit down and work out their response. One of their solutions is called "Voices Against Violence," a set of initiatives to "deglamorize violence on television; to allow parents to better know and control what their children may be watching; and generally to reduce the level of violence seen on television."
The initiatives are:
A "violence rating system," developed in cooperation with broadcast networks and independent TV stations;
"Viewer discretion technology," employing the so-called "v-chip" or other appropriate technology to allow parents to prevent certain programs from being available in the home;
An "outside monitor" to analyze violence in programs and produce an annual report;
A "parental advisory system," to be used in addition to the MPAA ratings already given - to movies;
"Standards and practices," with these benchmarks made publicly available and reviewed periodically;
"Responsible scheduling" of violent shows in later hours;
"Promotional ads: timing and content," to put ads depicting violence into later time periods, or to alter the content of ads for earlier time periods;
A "viewer education program," an anti-violence education campaign directed at young viewers.
The cable industry also laid out plans for programming initiatives. The centerpiece of this is the "Voices Against Violence Week," today through March 25 on 51 participating cable networks.
The programming includes - documentary pieces, talk shows, movies, specials, public-affairs programs and public-service announcements. CNBC functions as the "anchor" network, providing a nightly guide to programs on the other participants. …