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New labeling bill excludes TV

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) last week introduced legislation that would require content providers to create a uniform labeling system for all movies, video games, videotapes and music, but does not apply to TV shows.

"This strictly applies to products that you walk into the store and buy," said a Senate Commerce Committee spokeswoman.

McCain and Lieberman have been trying to label content for several years, and last year introduced bills to create a uniform labeling system for all media and to form a National Commission on Youth Violence, both of which got bogged down in larger juvenile justice legislation that never made it out of House-Senate conference.

"There is a consensus in the scientific community that exposure to violent images through the media is harmful to kids," McCain said. "This is common sense to the rest of us."

"[This alone] won't stop media standards from falling, or substitute for industry self-restraint," Lieberman said. "But it will help make ratings a more useful tool for parents who want to shield their kids."

Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, opposed the bill. "Movies are not cigarettes, and to equate First Amendment-protected intellectual property with cigarettes is a bit bizarre," Valenti said.

The industry would have six months to come up with a system that retailers would have to enforce. The FTC would be able to accept, reject or modify the system and would have the authority to charge content producers $10,000 for every item that is incorrectly labeled.