Study: Less violence on cable kidvid fare

Cable TV-originated children’s programs are less likely to contain violence than those produced by the broadcast networks, but cable violence in general is on par with the webs, according to a report released here yesterday.

The study was conducted for the National Cable Television Assn. by Dr. George Gerbner, professor of communications and Dean Emeritus of the Annenberg School of Communications at the U. of Pennsylvania. Gerbner is the author of almost every violence study conducted of TV programming.

The report is part of the industry’s response to the Television Improvement Act of 1990, and was submitted to the measure’s sponsors, Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and Rep. Dan Glickman (D-Kan.). Included with it was NCTA’s four-point action plan to address violence on cable.

Gerbner reported that 77% of cable-originated children’s programs contain some violence, compared to 82% on the networks.But he said they include only about half as many violent episodes per hour as do the webs.

He said other cable-originated dramatic shows were more likely to be violent than were prime time broadcast network fare, although they fell within the 10 -year range of such programs. Logically, most cable-originated violence comes from action programs, with regular dramatic programs second. Premium networks don’t contribute significantly to cable violence, Gerbner reported.

In an accompanying letter to Sen. Simon, NCTA prez James Mooney said the industry is delighted with the finding about children’s programming. But he said NCTA “takes little comfort in Gerbner’s overall conclusion that cable (violence) is on par with the broadcast networks.”

The four-point program will:

o Adopt an industry statement that cable networks can embrace as an ongoing policy regarding the use of violence in programming;

o Urge every cable network to develop its own written set of internal standards and practices by the end of 1993;

o Help organize and participate in a conference on television violence in Los Angeles announced last month by the TV networks;

o Commission another study on cable violence in two years.

The Industry Policy Statement on violence reads: “We believe that the depiction of violence is a legitimate dramatic and journalistic representation of an unavoidable part of human existence. We also believe that the gratuitous use of violence depicted as an easy and convenient solution to human problems is harmful to our industry and society.

“We therefore discourage and will strive to reduce the frequency of such exploitive uses of violence while preserving our right to show programs that convey the real meaning and consequences of violent behavior.”

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