Inside moves

Most net heads skip NAACP; Peacock revises ratings system

Web heads skip NAACP

The networks have determined who will attend the public hearing the NAACP is holding Monday, and the group’s leaders may be disappointed.

CBS Television CEO Leslie Moonves will be the only network chief responding to questions posed by a panel made up of NAACP president and CEO Kweisi Mfume, chief counsel Dennis Hayes, assistant general counsel Debbie Liu and communications director John White.

Meanwhile, ABC’s Chris Hikawa, NBC’s Rosalyn Weinman and Fox’s Roland McFarland, who each lead their respective network’s standards and practices departments, will testify, as will Donald Gadsden, senior vice president of business affairs at NBC.

NAACP’s White said the meeting, to be held Monday morning at the Century Plaza Hotel, will be set up like a Congressional hearing. Panels representing labor groups, network execs and community activists will each get a turn under the hot lights, answering questions posed by the four NAACP officials.

“We expect to get more facts, to peel back another layer and look at what’s going on in the industry,” White said.

The NAACP will announce by mid-December whether it plans to boycott one or more networks during January and February, White said. The group originally planned to stage a boycott in November but later canceled those plans.

Peacock revises ratings system

File this one under, “Will anyone even notice?”

Almost three years after television first implemented the now ubiquitous content ratings system, the networks are still tweaking the process.

NBC, for example, has decided to go with a baseline rating for shows such as “Law and Order” and “The Pretender,” rather than fluctuate the rating on an episode by episode basis.

Under the new plan, all episodes of “Law and Order” and “The Pretender” will receive a TV-14 rating. Some episodes received a TV-PG in the past.

“In terms of parents who use the system as a guideline, it’s almost more important to keep a consistency for the series,” said Rosalyn Weinman, executive vice president of standards and practices at NBC.

NBC remains the only network not utilizing the additional letter indicators representing violence, sexual situations, coarse language or suggestive dialogue.

ABC, CBS and Fox spokesmen said they continue to rate series by each episode.

Industry observers say a larger problem may exist with the ratings themselves, which to most viewers have become nothing more than visual white noise. Privately, the networks admit they receive little or no feedback from viewers regarding the content ratings.

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