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Senate holds second hearing on marketing of violent entertainment

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    NMU         WASHINGTON, D.C.         Broadcasting         Sep 27, 2000    

Senate holds second hearing on marketing of violent entertainment

  • Members of the film industry, chastised for their absence at the first hearing, offered a new marketing approach.

For the second time in two weeks, the Senate Commerce Committee heard testimony on what a federal agency reported as a trend in the entertainment industry of marketing violent images to the country’s youth. At the Sept. 27 hearing, executives from the film industry presented a plan to alter the pervasive practice noted in the Federal Trade Commission report.

Before questioning the eight executives on their plan, the members of the committee used their opening statements to denounce the group’s absence earlier in the month. The discussion then quickly turned to the 12-point plan submitted by the industry executives. The witnesses emphasized two points: one, the companies behind the films intent to ask theater owners not to run trailers of R-rated films before showing a G-rated film, and two, a child under 17 years old must be accompanied by a parent to screening sessions of films. The FTC reported incidents of children as young as 12 years old participating in a focus group for R-rated films, which children under 17 cannot attend without parental supervision.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) asked the panel if they would not advertise R-rated films on any media that has an audience consisting of more than 35 percent of children under 17. In response, Jim Gianopulos, president of Twentieth Century Fox, said parents have the responsibility to filter what their children view.

Another suggestion by the committee involved the policing of the marketing habits of the entertainment industry. Mel Harris, president of Sony Pictures, responded negatively to the idea of an agent of the government watching over his shoulder. Harris equated such a scenario to a police state similar to one which, he said, enveloped his college campus during the Vietnam era.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ended the hearing by assuring no legislation would be passed to monitor the industry, but he expects the industry to act on its own to revamp its marketing strategies.

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