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Canadian cablers urged to fight TV violence

A prominent critic of television violence Tuesday urged cable operators to “use their moral authority” in “nudging violent programming off the agenda.”

Wendy Josephson, of the U. of Winnipeg, addressed about 500 delegates at lunch during the Canadian Cable Television Assn.’s annual convention. She referred to more than 300 worldwide studies, the majority of which she claims support the theory that violence in programming does increase the rate of aggression.

Josephson commended the cable industry for current initiatives against violence in programming. That includes “Stop the Silence on Violence!,” a program recently announced by the CCTA that will provide educational programming to enable parents and children to discriminate in viewing.

But she also suggested that the cable campaign against violence in television programming didn’t go far enough, although she stopped short of calling for censorship. “I would urge you to use the influence that you have to bring us more television that is not violent.”

And that seemed to be a key theme during the three-day convention that wrapped up Wednesday evening. Keith Spicer, chairman of federal broadcast watchdog the CRTC, also focused on the need to take action to reduce violence in television programming.

He reminded the delegates that the CRTC does not believe regulation/censorship will work. “Nothing is solved by laws. Everything is changed by changes in attitudes and the hardest thing to change is somebody’s mind,” Spicer said.

He added: “There is a place for violence on television in a legitimate artistic context and I don’t want to be the one to have to define it.”

Spicer believes the solution entails finding a balance between the widest possible freedom of expression and the protection of children.

He also pressed the cablers “not to adopt a siege mentality” against the rest of the industry.

Spicer was referring to an industrywide hearing the CRTC held in March that is expected to provide a blueprint (due out in June) for the future makeup of the Canadian Broadcasting System. During the monthlong hearing, cable operators were often painted as the “bad guys” who reaped huge profits but put little back into the system.

“We are aiming toward market convergence with cablers, broadcasters, marketers, program suppliers, everybody. We’re all on the same side. That’s the side of Canada.”

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