Lieberman ready for Round 2 with Hollywood

Apr 23, 2001  •  Post A Comment

As broadcasters assemble in Las Vegas this week for their annual convention, government officials are preparing to take a swipe at them in Washington.
Both the Federal Trade Commission and Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., in separate but related moves, are expected to again sound the alarm over Hollywood’s marketing of violent and vulgar content to children.
Sources said the FTC will issue a report, probably on Tuesday, that examines whether violent R-rated movies, recordings with explicit lyrics and mature-rated video games are being peddled to youngsters during teen-oriented television shows and in other media geared to the age group.
It will also examine whether ratings, labels and content descriptors have been added to the ads, and if so, whether they provide effective warnings.
Meanwhile, sources said Sen. Lieberman plans to introduce long-promised legislation this week that gives the FTC authority to clamp down on marketers of graphic and explicit content to kids. The FTC has said it lacks the authority to take punitive action.
“We would oppose that legislation,” said Rich Taylor, spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America. “We would find it unfriendly to the First Amendment.
“We took additional steps to avoid any direct, inappropriate marketing of violent R-rated motion pictures to children.”
Sen. Lieberman has said the guidelines adopted by movie studios last fall don’t go far enough.
The report was requested in January by four senators as a follow-up to a September FTC study that documented how some Hollywood studios purposely infuse violence into content and marketing to appeal to young minds.
The lawmakers are Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz.; Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.; Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C.; and Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga. They’ve also asked the FTC to issue a more detailed report on media violence this fall that includes extensive industry input.
Sen. McCain will decide after the release of the latest report whether to hold hearings on it, said Pia Pialorsi, spokeswoman for the Senate Commerce panel.
Sen. Lieberman was in Hollywood last week for meetings with the Directors Guild, movie studios and the Creative Coalition, a nonprofit Hollywood group made up of entertainers, producers and writers.
He reiterated his concerns about smut on TV and the big screen and vowed to move ahead with his legislation.
National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Jeff Bobeck insisted that Hollywood-and not TV stations-is the main target of the Washington regulators.
“We’re always concerned when over-the-air television is lumped in with other media because television does a good job of policing itself compared with other media,” he said.
“Anyone that talks about new regulations on television content is not taking the v-chip seriously. The v-chip has not been given enough of an opportunity to work.”