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Dallas City Council disbands 28-year-old film rating board

The Dallas Motion Picture Classification Board has seen its last picture show.

After more than two hours of debate, the City Council voted 9-6 to do away with the local ratings system and the 28-year-old board.

The panel’s chairman, Dr. Fred E. Aurbach, said Thursday that the board had been the nation’s last protection against the movie industry’s agenda to mold American society. Aurbach credited the panel with making Hollywood accountable to viewers and with the creation of an industry hot line for film information.

“I am not the loser,” said the 49-year-old dentist. “I think that the city and the nation is. There is nothing now. There is no one to keep Hollywood in tow.”

Dallas created its classification board by ordinance in 1965. The Motion Picture Assn. of America three years later adopted a voluntary system of movie ratings.

The movie industry had considered the board unnecessary, and some Dallas City Council members argued it was a burden on taxpayers.

Aurbach said the board, which had a budget of $ 7,800 last year, was a victim of politics, including efforts of the MPAA, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Assn. of Theatre Owners.

Jack Valenti, MPAA president and chief executive officer, praised the council’s vote to rescind what he called the nation’s only mandatory censorship board for films.

“I congratulate the City Council of Dallas for confirming once again that government at any level cannot and ought not be involved in what people read, listen to or watch,” Valenti said from D.C.

The ACLU also applauded the board’s demise. “The board offended the First Amendment and freedom of expression,” said Joe Cook, north regional director of the ACLU of Texas.

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