Lieberman sets hearing on ratings

Two different panels expected

WASHINGTON — Making good on his promise, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) will hold a July 25 hearing on whether Hollywood needs to make major changes to ratings systems used by various sectors of the entertainment biz.

Lieberman, new chair of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, has yet to release a firm witness list or precise agenda, but entertainment execs say they expect two different panels.

The first will likely be made up of children’s advocates who say there should be one universal code used by the movie, TV, music and vidgame industries vs. the separate ratings systems now employed. The second panel will likely be made up of reps from the entertainment biz, who maintain that it isn’t feasible to apply one, universal rating system to different forms of content.

Motion Picture Assn. of America topper Jack Valenti and Recording Industry Assn. of America Hillary Rosen say their respective ratings systems are giving parents the needed information. Ditto for vidgame biz execs.

Lieberman has been partial to the idea of a universal ratings system but wants the hearing to be a forum for all voices, a congressional aide said.

The pol, long critical of Hollywood, is also pushing legislation that would give the Federal Trade Commission authority to go after the entertainment biz for deceptive advertising in those instances where companies ignore their own ratings systems and peddle age-restricted fare to kids.

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