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Hollywood to Parents: Control Your Remotes

An ad campaign by studios and networks about children's TV viewing is a bid to avoid legislation on content.

April 25, 2006|From the Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — A coalition of entertainment groups will launch a $300-million educational campaign next month to urge parents to control what their children watch on television, the groups said Monday.

The effort by TV networks, cable and satellite television companies, local broadcasters and Hollywood studios is an attempt to forestall government control of content by demonstrating that a voluntary program can work.

Jack Valenti, former head of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, announced the effort Monday during his keynote speech to the National Assn. of Broadcasters.

"We want to tell American parents that they, and they alone, have total power to control every hour of television programming," Valenti said.

Valenti said the groups would enlist the not-for-profit Ad Council to develop advertising that cable systems, networks and local stations have agreed to air in what Valenti termed an "avalanche of messages."

The material will also be distributed to churches and advocacy groups.

The group will work with the Consumer Electronics Assn. to raise awareness about the presence of V-chips in TV sets that allow the blocking of some programming.

"We hope you will conclude it is far wiser not to legislate but rather allow this unique parental education project to move forward," Valenti wrote in a letter sent Monday to U.S. senators.

Valenti said recent surveys showed that the Federal Communications Commission and Congress were "insufficient to the task" of regulating decency, in part because the law did not extend to cable and satellite programming.''

"I tell parents that if you have 100 channels of cable, only 8% to 10% will be affected by anything the FCC and Congress can do," he said.

The effort is being launched as broadcasters are fighting federal regulation of decency standards that the industry says are vague and inconsistent.

Two weeks ago, four TV broadcast networks and their affiliates filed court challenges to an FCC ruling that found several programs "indecent" because of language.

The networks and affiliate groups, representing more than 800 individual stations, said they objected to "growing government control over what viewers should and shouldn't see on television."

Earlier Monday, new National Assn. of Broadcasters President David Rehr said members should not be on the defensive when it came to indecency.

"We have no objection to playing by the indecency rules," Rehr said. "But we have to know what they are. We need clearer guidance from the FCC and Congress on where the lines are drawn."

The association has previously called for the FCC to extend indecency regulation to cable television.

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