WASHINGTON, D.C. — Officials from three federal or federally- funded agencies in mid-February signed pledges not to advertise during television programs containing “excessive violence.”
The agreement made by the Department of Defense, the U.S. Postal Service and Amtrak marks the first time three government organizations have agreed to such a uniform policy, according to U.S. Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who asked the agencies to adopt the policy.
The policy defines excessive violence as violence which is “inappropriate or unnecessary in relation to the story” or “with no redeeming social value.” Documentary, news and sports programs are not considered excessively violent under the guidelines.
“This is not censorship. This is a voluntary agreement among federal, or federally-related, entities to act in the best interest of Americans,” Graham said at a mid-February press conference announcing the policy.
The three groups reported spending more annually on television advertising than any other federally funded agencies. The Department of Defense spent $37.3 million last year on television advertising, the Postal Service spent $22.9 million, and Amtrak spent $8.1 million. All the organizations already had a similar policy in place before signing the pledge.
Several of the military’s recruitment advertisements show soldiers using various weapons. Frederick Pang of the Defense Department said there is a distinction between any depictions of violent behavior in the ads and those in programs considered too violent. Pang said it is necessary for the department to show violence as a possible part of being in the military. “We are into truth in advertising. We have a mission that, if we don’t deter violence, may lead to violence. We don’t want to portray the military as a white-collar job because it’s not.”
The officials could not identify any specific television shows that would be considered too violent under the guidelines. All three organizations currently hire a private agency which screens television shows to ensure the programs meet their specifications before the agencies buy advertising time, they said.
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