TW topper also blasts solons who blame biz for violence in society

Time Warner topper Gerald Levin renewed his call for complete deregulation of the media in an address to showbizzers Tuesday, in which he also blasted the “moral arrogance” of solons who blame the entertainment industry for contributing to such violent tragedies as last week’s school slayings in Littleton, Colo.

“I find in this season of political opportunism, a form of moral arrogance with respect to the media. We hear it already in relation to the horrors in Littleton, Colorado,” Levin said in his luncheon speech to the Hollywood Radio & TV Society.

“The media and TV are such an easy scapegoat. Where are the cries that demand a stop to the proliferation of guns?” Levin said, his sentence clipped by sustained applause from the audience at the Regent Beverly Wilshire.

As he has in the past, Levin encouraged showbizzers to offer support for teachers as one way of addressing social problems among youth. “Deep down, we need to support teachers, public education. It is our noblest profession,” said Levin, whose son, a high school teacher, was gunned down in a 1997 robbery.

On the subject of deregulation, Levin asserted that “the time has come for the government to sweep clean its regulatory house” as TV and other mass media come to grips with the “transforming influence of digital technology.”

Levin cited the “decentralizing, democratizing” influence of the Internet as an example of how a market driven by technology and creativity can flourish in the absence of any government oversight.

The television industry, on the other hand, is subject to myriad controls, from the licensing of TV stations to cross-ownership restrictions that bar such media giants as Time Warner from owning both broadcast TV stations and cable systems.

“We are a 21st century industry regulated by 19th century ideas,” Levin opined. “Regulations in my view have gone from being simply obstructive to just absurd.”

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