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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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TV ratings get a rewrite

After one season the new TV ratings system was canceled. This summer the TV industry, under pressure from various critics, signed an agreement with Congress to create more detailed ratings. In return for its cooperation, several senators signed an agreement promising to oppose any legislation that imposes ratings or requires the broadcast of more family friendly shows.

These promises don't hold for NBC, which refused to participate in the new ratings.

The rewritten ratings, which began airing in October, keep the original age-based format of G, PG, TV-14 and MA (mature audience). They add the additional labels of V (violence), S (sexual content), L (strong language) and D (suggestive dialogue).

The ratings continue to appear in the top left of the screen, but they are larger and shown longer.

Children's shows keep the same Y (suitable for all youth) and Y-7 (for ages 7 and up) ratings, and an FV label was added for cartoons and other shows with fantasy violence.

Plans are still in place for televisions made in 1998 to be equipped with a V-chip, which allows viewers to program their sets to block out specific shows.

For those who still find the ratings incomplete, the National Institute on Media and the Family joined Aid Association for Lutherans to provide parents with KidScore, a monthly listing of detailed reviews of TV programs, first-run movies, videotape movies and video games. AAL will publish the reviews in a monthly magazine called Cornerstones for its members who subscribe. The reviews also are available on the National Institute on Media and the Family Web site (www.mediaandthefamily.org).

Parents who do not have time to screen all TV shows may also find an ally in the Family Guide to Prime Time Television, from the Media Research Center, Alexandria, Va., which describes itself as a "conservative research and education foundation." The guide is available for $6.95, call (800) 243-BIAS.


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