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NC-17 Movie Rating Law Defeated in Florida City

November 22, 1990|DAVID J. FOX | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Motion Picture Assn. of America and the National Assn. of Theater Owners are claiming victory after beating back efforts by some members of the Kissimmee, Fla., City Commission to include the MPAA's copyrighted NC-17 movie rating into local law.

The proposed city ordinance, defeated on a 5-0 vote, would have been the first of its kind in the nation.

Vans Stevenson, the MPAA's representative at the Kissimmee meeting, said the association opposed the law because the rating system's strength is in its voluntary approach. Stevenson said, however, that the fact that the city commissioners wanted to write the rating into law was itself a vote of confidence in how the public feels about the rating system.

The ordinance, which would have made it illegal to sell tickets to minors in Kissimmee for any NC-17 movie, was introduced a week ago and passed on a preliminary 3-2 vote.

Stevenson said the MPAA's position was that previous court cases testing similar laws have ruled that government agencies cannot delegate their legislative authorities to a private trade association, like the MPAA. The courts also have found that the MPAA ratings are not a legal determination of obscenity.

"This kind of ordinance also could have a very negative reaction from film makers because, to avoid the criminal penalties associated with (these kinds of local) ordinances, filmmakers might begin releasing movies unrated. Then, essentially, everyone loses. Parents don't get the (rating guidance) information they are looking for, and no one is served."

The NC-17 rating--meaning no children younger than 17 admitted--was introduced by the MPAA in September to replace the adults-only X rating.

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