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PTC Pans, Valenti Defends TV Boss

The Parents Television Council released a pair of polls Thursday that PTC President Tim Winter said showed the industry's TV Boss v-chip/ratings education campaign was not working.

Jack Valenti, the campaign's architect . said the polls were an unfair shot at an effort that will take time for the public to fully understand.

PTC asked three TV-related questions: 1.) Do you agree or disagree that there is too much sex, violence and coarse language on television?;
2.) In the past week, how many times have you used your V-chip or cable box parental controls to block unwanted content from your television?
3.) Define the content descriptors D,L,S,V (Dialog, Language, Sex and Violence) by choosing the correct answer out of four options.

On the "too much violence" question, 80% said yes in September, 79% in March; 87% said they had not used the V-chip in September, 88% in March; and only 7% could pick the right descriptors definition in September, 8% in March.

PTC President Tim Winter said those results showed that the campaign, launched last summer, was ineffective. He  called it simply an attempt to appease Congress while it was "business as usual" in the sexual, violent and profane programming department.

Former Motion Picture Association of America head Jack Valenti, who spearheaded the campaign, countered that the so-called study did not ask a key question: Do parents want the government to intervene? Valenti says studies show they don't.

"I think most Americans don't want somebody in Washington or an anonymous person at the Parents Television Council telling me how to raise my childen," Valenti said. Valenti continued to say that "most Americans by overwhelming majorities believe that some programs on televisoin are unsuitable for their children, but by an overwhelming majority they think that viewers should make that decision, not the federal government."

Winter conceded in a press conference. He said that the polls lacked certain questions and that the limitations were due to funding.

As for the third question, many poll respondents said they did not understand what the letters D, L, S and V meant, and some said they did not use their v-chip. "That is why we have this program," Valenti said.

He said the TV Boss campaign promoting the TV ratings system was only in its ninth month. "It will take time to reshape social decisions."

Valenti said the movie ratings system, which Valenti helped develop to stave off content regulation in that industry, took time to become part of the fabric of society. Citing his own poll, he said that an Opion Research Corp. study last September showed that 80% of parents children under 13 found the rating systems to be fairly-to-very useful." Valenti said that number was more like 30%-40% in the "first couple of years" of the movie ratings system.

"I have no idea how effective this is going to be," Valenti said of the TV Boss campaign.  "But I'll tell you this-- it's a hell of a lot more effective than doing nothing."