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Time Warner Uses Common Sense

Time Warner says it will start putting TV reviews and ratings information from family programming watchdog Common Sense Media on its cable systems and Web site starting next week.

The group rates the age-appropriateness of TV programs (as well as video games, movies, music and books) for sex, violence, and language--among other things-- proclaiming shows on balance "good stuff" (green light) "pause"--for proceed with caution (yellow light), or "not of the right age" (red light). For example, the soon-to-be-ex-UPN's drama South Beach was deemed not suitable for anyone under 17, according to their Web site.

Time Warner says it will look into integrating the group's recommendations into its onscreen program guide and TV listing search functions.

“We are pleased to partner with Common Sense Media in giving parents additional tools and information to help them make informed decisions for their families,” said Time Warner Cable President/CEO Glenn Britt.“Our goal is to incorporate Common Sense Media assets and expertise across a wide variety of Time Warner Cable platforms making this information easy to access for interested customers.We believe Common Sense Media’s extensive reviews will add another level of resources to the cable ratings system that has been operating since the mid 1990’s.”

Time Warner created a family tier in December 2005.

The announcement of the new ratings came the same day that Common Sense Media will give out its annual awards for "improving the media landscape for children." This year's Lifetime Achievement winner is former FCC Chairman Newton Minow, who will receive his award--at a Kennedy Center awards presentation--from current FCC chairman, Kevin Martin. Martin has pushed the media to give parents more content control tools, while Minow is famous for once calling TV a 'vast wasteland," compared to its potential to educate, entertain and enlighten.

Other award winnersinclude Senator Joe Lieberman, longtime critic of media violence, particularly video games, and Gary Knell of Sesame Workshop.