From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Television Violence Is Spotlighted
04 May 1996 15:23:10
96067 Television Violence Is Spotlighted
During MRTI Meeting
by Julian Shipp
LOS ANGELES--Meeting Feb. 2-3 near Hollywood, the heart of the
entertainment industry, the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through
Investment (MRTI) reported on its discussion of network television violence
with officials of General Electric and its subsidiary, NBC.
According to the Rev. William Somplatsky-Jarman, MRTI staff member in
the National Ministries Division, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is the
primary filer of a shareholder resolution requesting GE/NBC to review its
broadcast standards in light of research on the effects of portrayals of
violence, especially on children, and to report its findings to
stockholders. During the meeting with television executives,
Somplatsky-Jarman was accompanied by Dr. Gary Miller, MRTI chair.
"NBC explained its opposition to developing a rating system for
television programs and the introduction of the V-chip, a device which
would permit parents to screen out offensive programs more easily,"
Somplatsky-Jarman said. "NBC also detailed steps it is taking to reduce
violence, develop more positive programs for families and showcased the
antiviolence spots it runs."
While in Los Angeles, MRTI Committee members met with Dr. Jeff Cole,
director of the UCLA Center on Communications Policy. Cole directed a
two-year study on television violence on the major networks and released a
report with recommendations last summer. Funded by the networks, the study
found serious problems in their portrayal of violence.
Proxy voting recommendations
Proxy voting recommendations dominated much of MRTI's work. However,
committee members found time for two dialogues with area corporations and
educational visits concerning MRTI priority issues.
Somplatsky-Jarman said religious stockholders have submitted
resolutions to about 150 companies on issues ranging from equal employment
opportunity to environmental standards to television violence. Many of the
resolutions will be withdrawn following dialogue with a company where a
mutually satisfactory agreement is worked out. Other resolutions may not
appear on the final proxy statement if a company successfully challenges
them before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
MRTI annually reviews the resolutions and recommends whether they
should be supported, opposed or whether an abstention should be recorded.
MRTI's recommendations go to the General Assembly Council before being sent
on to the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Foundation. Other
Presbyterian institutions receive MRTI's recommendations for their use,
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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