Ratings wrestle on Hill

WASHINGTON — Kidvid advocates told members of Congress Monday that they could reach a final agreement on a beefed-up program labeling system as early as today, but network lobbyists insist that there are still several issues to be hammered out before a deal is sealed.

Broadcast lobbyists are also pushing the FCC to delay the hearing on content ratings scheduled for Friday. Several sources suggested Monday that Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain (R-Az.) may ask the FCC to defer the hearing until negotiations are concluded. Broadcasters say talks are bound to continue into next week and the planned hearing on the current TV rating system would only serve to polarize the two sides.

Kidvid advocates and some members of Congress are demanding that the television industry add labels to the current age-based system that provide information about the sexual and violent content of a show. The current TV labels are based on the Motion Picture Assn. of America film code which makes viewing recommendations based on a child’s age, but provide little information about the specific content of a film.

Broadcast lobbyists huddled in Washington Monday as they hashed out a game plan to deal with Congress and kidvid advocates who are eagerly awaiting a final proposal on a beefed-up program rating system. Industry lobbyists are scheduled to meet with McCain at 3 p.m. today before heading into a negotiation session with advocates of the content-based rating system. Among those groups are the Children’s Defense Fund, the American Medical Assn. and the National PTA.

Kidvid groups told members of Congress during a meeting Monday that the two sides were close enough to nail down a final agreement today. But several industry lobbyists told Daily Variety Monday that a final agreement could still be two weeks away.

The proposal that is currently on the table would add V for violence, S for sex, L for language and D for dialogue to the current age-based tiers of TVPG, TV14 and TV MA. The V stands for violence, S for sex, L for language and D for dialogue.

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