MTV is getting a “bad rap” from critics who claim the web airs too many violent videos, MTV Networks chairman Tom Freston said Tuesday.

Freston, who spoke before the Washington Metropolitan Cable Club, conceded that MTV carries music videos containing scenes of violence.

One reason, he said, is because record companies are now submitting more videos with a high violence content.

Another reason for airing occasional videos with violent scenes is that if MTV is to remain “credible” with its audience, it “must reflect some level of reality,” Freston added. The reality is that gangs, racial hatred and violence are part of modern urban life, he said.

Freston said MTV has “strict standards” in its videos against gratuitous violence, illegal drug and alcohol abuse, excessive sexual activity, obscene language, and characterizations of any ethnic, racial or religious group in a “derogatory” manner.

Freston claimed MTV Networks “do more pro-social programming than just about anyone else in cable.” He cited MTV’s “Choose or Lose” campaign, “Rock against Drugs” and the “Don’t Drink and Drive” messages, in addition to Nickelodeon’s “Stay in School” campaign and VH-1’s environmental “World Alerts.”