A key member of Congress last week called on the television industry to reduce children's exposure to violent programming, and hinted Congress may act if the industry fails to respond.
Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., the chairman of the House Telecommunications and Finance Subcommittee, said the industry should consider adopting a rating system for violence similar to the movie industry's.
"The more parents know in advance about which shows are violent, the better equipped they will be to perform the parental role of choosing suitable television programming for their children,'' he said during a hearing May 12 about the impact of televised violence on children.
No major legislation addressing violence on television is pending before Congress, but Rep. Markey said lawmakers should consider requiring that television sets sold in the United States provide parents with a way to block channels or shows they deem too violent for their children. He suggested that sets could be equipped with a computer chip programmed to block out shows that were encoded with a signal to indicate they contained violence.
In 1990, Congress passed a law that gave the television networks a three-year antitrust exemption to get together and establish standards for reducing violence.
Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., who wrote that legislation, told the House subcommittee last week that the industry has agreed on such standards.
"I am hopeful that these standards will be evident in the fall programming of 1993,'' he said. Broadcasters, the cable industry, and the major motion picture studios will participate in a conference in August to discuss the standards, he added.
The subcommittee also heard from researchers and medical experts
about the impact of televised violence on children.
"There should no longer be any doubt that heavy exposure to television and film violence is one of the causes of aggressive behavior, crime, and violence in society,'' said L. Rowell Huesmann, a professor of psychology and communication at the University of Michigan.
Turner Educational Services Inc. has a new magazine it is providing to the users of "CNN Newsroom,'' the Cable News Network's classroom news show.
The debut issue of T3--Television, Technology & Teaching includes reports on science news, instructions on how to get classroom guides to "CNN Newsroom'' from online services, and a catalogue of media resources available from Turner Broadcasting System Inc.
Subscriptions are free for schools enrolled in "CNN Newsroom.''
Information is available by calling (800) 344-6219.--M.W.