A new study indicating that TV violence has ebbed hints that the networks and Hollywood programmers may be turning the corner on the problem, Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) said Wednesday.“It’s now possible to speculate that the era of indifference may be ending,” said Simon. “The industry is getting the message from the public, from the research community and from the Congress that television violence contributes to violence in our society.” It was Simon in 1990 who spearheaded passage of the Television Violence Act, a bill that gave the TV networks and cable operators a three-year exemption from antitrust laws to jointly combat TV violence. The law expires Dec. 1, although Simon said Wednesday he has asked the U.S. Dept. of Justice to consider extending the antitrust exemption. Simon’s comments came at a D.C. press conference where George Gerbner of the U. of Pennsylvania released a study showing that primetime violence has dipped of late, while Saturday ayem cartoons has shown a “slower, uneven decline.” Gerbner attributed the TV violence drop in part to passage of the Simon bill. The Gerbner study found that NBC carried the most violent programming in primetime last season. The Peacock web disputed the claim, however, saying “NBC welcomes responsible studies of TV violence. Gerbner’s study unfortunately does not meet that standard.”
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