- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2000

LOS ANGELES Theater owners for the first time have adopted guidelines prohibiting the showing of R-rated film trailers in advance of feature films rated G or PG.

The National Association of Theater Owners, with 700 members in the United States, issued the new guidelines Monday. The policy was approved unanimously at a general membership meeting last week.

The group also issued new guidelines for preventing children younger than 17 from getting in to see restricted films.

The movie industry still is struggling to overcome intense criticism stemming from a Federal Trade Commission report in September that criticized the entertainment industry for marketing violent and sexually explicit films, music and video games to children.

Congress intensified the pressure with hearings on the report. The marketing of violence also was an issue in the presidential campaign, with Vice President Al Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, saying they would give Hollywood six months to adopt strict marketing guidelines or face potential federal regulation.

The new theater owners' guidelines would allow individual operators to decide whether to show a trailer for an R-rated film before a feature rated PG-13, one notch up from PG.

The association is requiring members to examine trailers to "ensure that their tone and content are consistent with the feature film and that nothing in the trailer itself is likely to offend the audience."

The theater owners' guidelines go a step beyond guidelines adopted in September by the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents film studios and urged theater owners to stop showing trailers for R-rated films before G-rated features but didn't include PG films.

The new theater owners' guidelines also require each member to appoint a senior executive compliance officer to enforce policies restricting access to films rated R and NC-17.

They urge the posting of extra security outside theaters during the showing of "extreme R-rated films and all NC-17-rated films."

It will be up to individual theater chains to adopt specific policies based on the guidelines, says John Fithian, president of the theater owners association.

The United Artists Theatre Circuit Inc., one of the largest theater chains, will issue its policy changes in the next week or so, says Kurt Hall, the company's president and chief executive officer.

"We're taking it very, very seriously," Mr. Hall says.

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