Tuesday, April 25, 2006

LAS VEGAS — A coalition of entertainment groups will establish a $300 million educational campaign next month to urge parents to control what their children watch on television, the groups said yesterday.

The effort by TV networks, cable and satellite television companies, local broadcasters and Hollywood studios is an attempt to forestall government control of content by demonstrating that a voluntary program can work.

Jack Valenti, former head of the Motion Picture Association of America, announced the effort yesterday during his keynote speech to the National Association of Broadcasters.

“We want to tell American parents that they, and they alone, have total power to control every hour of television programming,” Mr. Valenti said.

He said the groups would enlist the not-for-profit Ad Council to develop advertising that cable systems, networks and local stations have agreed to air in what Mr. Valenti termed an “avalanche of messages.”

The material also will be distributed to churches and advocacy groups.

The group also will work with the Consumer Electronics Association to raise awareness about the presence of V-chips in TV sets that allow the blocking of some programming.

“We hope you will conclude it is far wiser not to legislate but rather allow this unique parental education project to move forward,” Mr. Valenti wrote in a letter sent yesterday to U.S. senators.

He said recent surveys show the Federal Communications Commission and Congress are “insufficient to the task” of regulating decency, in part because the law does not extend to cable and satellite programming.

“I tell parents that if you have 100 channels of cable, only 8-10 percent will be affected by anything the FCC and Congress can do,” he said.

The effort is being started as broadcasters are fighting federal regulation of decency standards that the industry says are vague and inconsistent.

Two weeks ago, four TV broadcast networks and their affiliates filed court challenges to an FCC ruling that found several programs “indecent” because of language.

The networks and affiliate groups, representing more than 800 individual stations, said they objected to “growing government control over what viewers should and shouldn’t see on television.”

Earlier yesterday, new National Association of Broadcasters President David Rehr said members should not be on the defensive when it comes to indecency.

“We have no objection to playing by the indecency rules,” Mr. Rehr said in a speech opening the three-day convention. “But we have to know what they are. We need clearer guidance from the FCC and Congress on where the lines are drawn.”

The association has previously called for the FCC to extend indecency regulation to cable television.

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