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The BBC's Washington correspondent Rob Watson
"Government may have to step in if self-regulation doesn't work"
 real 28k

Monday, 11 September, 2000, 18:57 GMT 19:57 UK
Hollywood 'sells violence to children'
Video game player in Japan
Some adult games are targetted at six-year-olds
President Clinton has strongly backed a US Government report criticising the entertainment industry for marketing violent entertainment products to children.

The report was ordered by Mr Clinton after the shooting dead last year of 13 teenagers by two of their fellow students at the Columbine High School in Colorado.

Report findings
80% of films rated for over 17 were targeted at children under 17
27% of music rated with "explicit content" was targeted at teenagers
70% of electronic games with a "Mature" rating are marketed to children under 17
Retailers make little effort to enforce rating restrictions
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report says products rated suitable for adults are frequently advertised in magazines and television programmes aimed at children.

It calls for an improvement in the self-regulated ratings system used by the film, music and games industries.

The film and video-game industries have voluntary age-based ratings while the music industry has a general label warning of adult or explicit content.

Ratings undermined

Bill and Hilary Clinton
Both Mr and Mrs Clinton endorsed the report
"Pervasive and aggressive marketing of violent movies, music and electronic games to children undermines the credibility of the industries' ratings and labels," the FTC report says.

"Such marketing also frustrates parents' attempts to make informed decisions about their children's exposure to violent content."

Clintons' backing

President Clinton, who has frequently expressed concern about violence in entertainment, urged the industries to halt the practices on their own.

"We've known now for 30 years through some 300 studies... that regular, persistent exposure of children at young ages to indiscriminate violence tends to make them less sensitive to the real and human impact of violence in their own lives," he said, speaking after the report's release.

Hillary Clinton said that, if elected to the senate, she would campaign for a uniform voluntary ratings system for all entertainment media.

The issue has already been raised during campaigning in America's presidential race.

Despite major donations from the entertainment industry to President Clinton and the democratic candidate to succeed him, Al Gore, Mr Gore's running-mate, Joseph Leiberman, is a leading critic of excessive sexual and violent content in entertainment.

Causes of violence

The report concludes that exposure to violence in the media alone "does not cause a child to commit a violent act, and that it is not the sole, or even necessarily the most important, factor contributing to youth aggression, anti-social attitudes and violence."

However, FTC chairman, Robert Pitofsky, said while violence in the media clearly had some effect on children.

Our correspondent in Washington says that the entertainment industry has defended itself by pointing to statistics that suggest America is becoming a less violent place, whatever politicians might say.

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See also:

16 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Dreyfuss dismisses Hollywood attack
14 Aug 00 | Americas
Lieberman attacks Hollywood
22 Apr 00 | Tom Brook
Hollywood's violent appetite
04 Nov 99 | Americas
Clinton alarm over US violence
16 May 99 | Americas
Clinton blasts Hollywood violence
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