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Network-Backed Coalition to Fight Indecency Crackdown

May 4, 2005  •  Post A Comment

A network TV-backed coalition has announced the launch of a major campaign to fight escalating efforts by lawmakers to crack down on off-color programming.

“We’re starting to push back,” said Jim Dyke, executive director of TV Watch, a new group that has the financial backing of News Corp., NBC Universal and Viacom-all of the Big 4 TV network owners except The Walt Disney Co.

Mr. Dyke, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee, announced Wednesday that the group’s key mission will be to educate consumers and federal regulators about the v-chip and other existing controls that consumers can use to block objectionable programming from reaching their homes.

“We have formed TV Watch to speak for the majority of Americans,” Mr. Dyke said.

During a teleconference to announce the group’s launch, representatives also publicized a recent poll by Luntz Research and Peter D. Hart Associates in which the majority of respondents said they should be able to choose for themselves what they view in their homes-not the government.

According to the national survey of 1,002 adults, which was conducted for the coalition, 92 percent said that while they don’t always like the content of programs they watch, they would “rather make that decision for myself than have the government make the decision for me.”

In addition, the survey said 86 percent of those interviewed indicated more parental involvement is a better solution than increased government involvement in controlling what children see on TV.

Group representatives said they will fight government controls on all forms of television, including cable and satellite. Coalition members, who declined to reveal their budget, also made clear that they are taking on the Parents Television Council and other groups that have been pushing for additional government-mandated content controls.

“Just because you have ‘Parents’ in the name of your group doesn’t mean you represent them all,” said Adam Thierer, a member of TV Watch who is also a fellow at Washington’s Progress & Freedom Foundation.

In response, L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, said: “This supposed ‘coalition’ needs to be taken – and dismissed – for what it is: a collection of random citizen and public policy groups that have simply been hired and paid for by the networks to do their dirty work.

Some of these organizations, like the American Conservative Union and Americans for Tax Reform, have never given a moment’s thought to the suffocating sewage coming from the entertainment industry. That in and of itself is shameful. But now, suddenly, they care? It’s a laughable proposition to think that this hired-gun coalition will have any impact whatsoever on the ongoing debate over decency and the public airwaves.”

Coalition representatives said their survey didn’t ask whether respondents supported requiring cable and satellite operators to provide a family-friendly tier of programming-an idea that is currently being promoted by key lawmakers. Said Mr. Thierer, “[A family tier requirement] is just censorship under another name.”

In addition to the major TV network owners, the following organizations are members of TV Watch: the American Conservative Union; Americans for Tax Reform; the Center for Creative Voices in Media; the Creative Coalition; the Media Freedom Project; the Media Institute; SpeakSpeak; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.