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A Practical Approach To Television Violence

2792 words - 11 pages

A Practical Approach to Television Violence

As difficult as this issue is, I believe it can be
addressed. My report shows that some progress has already begun in
several areas. Attention needs to be focused on how and why some
programming has begun to move in the right direction and why the rest
has not. "What this issue needs, more than anything else, is cool heads
on all sides of the problem: the network executives, the creative
community, the government, researchers and advocacy groups. All sides
need to worry less about how each development affects only them and
instead look at the needs of everyone."(U.C.L.A. 5)
In the broadcast world, the four television networks, ABC,
CBS, FOX, and NBC, have begun to get the message about television
violence. The programming they completely control, series and
television movies, has, for the most part shown some promising signs and
now reflects, on the whole, relatively few issues of concern as compared
to other network television formats. I contend that this is a result of
consumer pressure, rather that governmental regulation. The violence
contained in the most disturbing television series is minor in
comparison to that contained in theatrical films shown on network
television. And that violence, edited as it is, is tame compared to
films shown in theaters, in home videos and on pay cable.
Today, we see few programs with violence as their central
theme. More programming uses violence well or does not use it at all.
The public seems to be responding. Of the top 30 shows of the season,
only two are listed as raising concerns about violence. It is possible
to create popular programs that do not resort to inappropriate uses of
violence. Advisories need to be more consistently applied here.(U.C.L.A.
13)
Ultimately, however, it was the regulatory framework
established by the Communications Act of 1934 and a belief and trust in
the strong private broadcasting system that has been allowed to evolve
within that framework that proved most crucial. Section 326 of the
Communications Act provides the abiding standard. In matters of
content, "nothing in this chapter shall be understood or construed to
give the [Federal Communications] Commission the power of censorship
over the radio communications or signals transmitted by any radio [or
television] station, and no regulation or condition shall be promulgated
or fixed by the Commission which shall interfere with the right of free
speech or radio communication."(U.S.C. 31) This body of laws clearly
define any governmental involvement as a non-viable scenario. The only
group involved in this volitile debate that feels otherwise is,
ironically, the government. Must we, the people, obey the dictates of a
government that refuses to obey those same dictates itself?
The tension over potential content regulation that filled
the air in the late 1960's and early 1970's, however, remains...

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