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Industry lobbyists open to TV ratiing suggestions

WASHINGTON — Beltway lobbyists may meet with public interest groups as early as this week to begin taking suggestions for changes to the program ratings code, broadcast industry sources say.

The meetings with kidvid advocates and other media watchdog groups were called after a tete-a-tete between National Assn. of Broadcasters prexy Eddie Fritts, National Cable Television Assn. prexy Decker Anstrom and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.)

While broadcasting industry sources concede they will begin meeting with public interest groups about the ratings system, they insist that no promises were made to McCain. Capitol Hill sources say Anstrom and Fritts appeared poised to make significant changes to the system.

Since the industry debuted its age-based ratings code last December, it has been besieged with attacks from critics who say it does not provide enough specific information about the sexual and violent content of programs.

The ratings system is designed to work with the so-called V-chip, which will one day be installed in every television set sold in the U.S. and will allow parents to block reception of programs they find objectionable.

Ratings critics complain that without specific information about the sexual or violent content of programming, parents won’t know which shows to block with the V-chip.

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