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Nbc Right In Taking Stand On More Rating

Sat., July 12, 1997

Rate NBC TV-G - for guts.

The No. 1-rated network should be roundly applauded for standing alone in opposition to the latest thickheaded scheme to further rate TV programming for levels of sexual content (S), violence (V), “vulgar” language (L), “suggestive” dialogue (D) and “fantasy” violence (FV) on children’s shows. This is on top of the existing TV-Y to TV-M system, by which NBC will still abide.

While rival, fainthearted networks settled for another First Amendment-endangering plea bargain, NBC in effect is going to trial this fall amid clear indications that Congress will try to single it out for reprisals.

The network’s statement in its defense includes one passage that should be etched somewhere in the vicinity of the Lincoln Memorial or Statue of Liberty.

“The television industry has entered into a brokered arrangement to change the current ratings system under the threat of government intervention,” NBC said. “NBC is concerned that the ultimate aim of the current system’s critics is to dictate programming content.”

NBC also admonished ABC, CBS, Fox and a host of cable networks for “capitulating to political and special-interest pressure.”

The capitulators should know by now that nothing will satisfy our great nation’s content police. What began as a simple, albeit simple-minded, V-chip already has escalated into an indigestible alphabet soup.

The new system was agreed to by the rest of the so-called “TV industry” after key congressional leaders said they would try to enforce a three-year cease-fire on any attempts to further regulate programming. Had our forebears taken this timid tack, we’d still be occupied by the British.

Constitutionality and First Amendment implications aside, the new L, S, D, V and FV system is simply stupid. NBC was right to draw a line in the sand. It’s time to call Congress’ bluff and go to court if necessary to protect freedom of expression from ever-escalating efforts to chill it.

As a great American oatmeal salesman once said, “It’s the right thing to do.”

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