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Watchdogs give martial arts pics a karate chop

Ratings system will be self-imposed

BUDAPEST — Romania’s TV watchdog, the National Audio-Visual Council (CNA), is cleaning up the airwaves, forcing broadcasters to cut violence and explicit sex from programming — but chopsocky movies are the unfortunate victims of the clampdown.

Unlike most territories, the crackdown came after pressure from viewers, not politicians or independent analysts.

Now state net SRTV, commercial broadcasters Antena 1, Pro TV, Realitatea TV, Prima TV, TVRM and Tele 7 abc have agreed to ban “movies that contain sexual violence, explicit sex, martial arts, domestic violence, violence against children, the torture of people or animals and extreme violence” in the primetime 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. slot.

The industry is split about the effectiveness of the initiative. Critics say the agreement is unclear and muddies the definition of violence. For instance, the deal bans the choreographed and low-impact violence of Jackie Chan movies along with hardcore sex pics. Critics say this is unfair to martial arts distribs.

B1 TV was the only broadcaster not to sign the agreement. “We should first learn how to describe violence,” says B1 TV program director Radu Moraru. “Until sufficient explanation is given, TV stations are not allowed to air any karate movies.”

The agreement stipulates that programs with questionable content airing outside of primetime must issue a warning declaring genre, and whether the level of violence, profanity and sex is “low, average or extreme.”

According to CNA adviser Sorin Ghergut, it was inundated with complaints from TV audiences and the media. The complaints “showed that violence on TV is still a serious problem,” says Ghergut.

The ratings system will be self-imposed, with individual nets rating programs themselves. However, the CNA will monitor the system and warn or fine a net that violates the agreement.

If the nets don’t toe the line, the CNA has vowed to implement tougher provisions.

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