Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 20, 1975 · Page 70
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July 20, 1975

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 70

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, July 20, 1975
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Page 70
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Page 70 article text (OCR)

'Family Time' sparks bighassle in TV land v . JL · tx By Lee Mirgulies LOS ANGELES - W - The idea is downright wholesome: a designated time each night for television programs a family can watch together. Programs that neither bore adults with simplicity nor innun- date children with violence and sex. That's the plan for the hours between 7 and 9 p.m. each day of the week on the East and West coasts, and between 6 and 8 p.m. elsewhere. So much for the abstract. The reality, as the three networks go about putting just such a plan into effect for the fall season, is that the "family viewing time" has thrown the television industry into controversy. Top-rated shows like "All in the Family," "Kojak," and "Sunday 'Mystery Movie" are getting later, post-family time slots. Comments: *· "A sham... a scary mess... a euphemism for some very dangerous goings on." Larry Gelbert, co- producer of "MASH". "A significant step in responsible self-regulation, and in protecting the rights of our diverse audiences." A r t h u r R. Taylor, president of CBS Inc. +· "A public relations device. . . prior censorship." Writers Guild of America. * "Not censorship. . . not a straight-jacket on creative freedom." Robert T. Howard, president of NBC Television. "This industry has redoubled its efforts to show that it is responsive to public concern over the treatment of sensitive subject matter." +· "A terribly inadequate response to the problem." Rep. Torbert H. MacDonald, D-Mass., chairman of the House communications subcommittee. He has little faith in network self-regulation.. "If this whole thing depends on their reasonableness, their good faith, that's like writing a letter to Santa Claus;"he says. · "A wonderful idea." Sen. John 0, Pastore, D-R.I., chairman of the Senate communications subcommittee. ratings, showing there are 20 million kids between the ages of 2 and 17 watching television at 9 p.m. any night, 13 million at 10 p.m., and 5.5 million hanging on at 11 p.m. And what about the Central Time Zone in the Midwest, they ask, where network programs are seen one hour earlier than everywhere else? There a child who stays up until 9 p.m. will be able to see many of the so-called adult programs deemed inappropriate for youngsters. But Jerome H. Stanley, NBC's West Coast vice president of broadcast standards, says the family hour has its impact because children are more in control of what is watched between the hours of 7 and 9 p.m. "You have to assume that after 9 on any given night, adults have control of the set and that any children watching are there with the permission of those adults," he says. As for the Central Time Zone problem, a NAB spokesman concedes that it is a difficult one to solve: "But I think the real objective, while we had in mind children, obviously, was to provide a two hour window in which parents and anybody else who might have problems with TV programming could allow their children to watch -- or themselves -- with a feeling of confidence about it," he said. "Now, they can still do that in the Midwest; it's just a different two hours." » Family viewing time also affects local stations subscribing to the NAB's Television Code. Many of them thrive on early evening reruns of old network series like "Mod Squad," "Ironside" and "Gunsmoke." Those series may be too violent for the 7 to 9 p.m. period. But recognizing that the stations probably have a backlog of these episodes and not of the new family-type programs, the NAB gave them until Sept. 1, 1977, to comply fully. Executives at some of the syndicating companies and local TV stations say they think they may be able to comply sooner without casting aside the old series merely by editing out portions in each segment that might now be inappropriate. 344-3637 KOMO- TV N.Vi. ConnwicitiMS Dimiin of NerrittCirfK and sex on TV. "At best," the Writers Guild of America complained, "the family viewing hour is a public relations device designed to divert congressional criticism of network practices and programming." CBS's Taylor proposed family viewing time early this year, after the Federal Communications Com- : mission asked the networks to suggest how TV violence might be curbed. FCC Chairman Richard E. Wiley was enthusiastic and got all three networks to agree to set aside time for family programming. The proposal was adopted by the National Assn. of Broadcasters NAB in April. Added to the NAB's Television Code was this sentence: "Entertainment programming inappropriate for viewing by a general family audience should not be broadcast during the first hour of network entertainment programming in prime time and in the immediately preceding hour." But the NAB made no attempt to define what is "inappropriate for viewing by a general family audience." No one else, has, either. Network censors say it is a question of taste and judgment, and that even if they can't articulate the principle in a few sentences, they will know what is inappropriate when they see it. Many believe the networks and NAB have capitulated to pressure from Wiley, Sen. Pastore and other Washington forces for less violence ^.^.ii^^^fc.^.^.*. :.',..»..t.'» i,·v fc i i 4. i 4 ·- It is censorship, critics of the plan say, because it means programs airing during the family time cannot deal with some subjects. "What we're all afriad of," says Gelbart of the irreverant "MASH" now scheduled during the family hour period, "is that in these times, when there is a greater need than ever to deal with themes that can improve and even preserve the quality of life, we're being possibly asked to stay away from these areas altogether." Advocates of the plan say that all they want to do is reduce violence arid sexual references during the early evening. Programming in the later hours won't differ from what it is now, they say. Here's an indication of what family viewing will mean this fall: GBS's"Kojak" and NBC's "Sunday Mystery Movie" will move back half an hour from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. ABC has switched "The Rookies" from Monday at 8, to Tuesday at 9. All movies will begin when the family hours end. CBS also will uproot the top-rated "All in the Family" from its Saturday night 8 o'clock berth and move it to 9 p.m. Monday. The network's claim that the move was made strictly to bolster the Monday lineup has drawn considerable skepticism, especially when executive producer Norman Lear said CBS contacted him before the schedule change and asked if he would consider altering Archie. Bunker. He declined. Into the networks' family hours are going such new shows as "The Invisible Man," "The Swiss Family Robinson," "Mobile Two," "When Things Were Rotten," "Three for the Road," and "Phyllis" as well as holdovers such as "Cher," "Walt Disney," "The Waltons," "Emergency," "The Jeffersons," "Sanford and Son," and "Chico and the Man." Paul Junger Witt, producer of NBC's forthcoming series: "Fay," says changes had to be made when the half-hour comedy about a divorced woman was scheduled in the family zone. . - . "We had a story in the works about Fay and her young lawyer boss spending a weekend together and deciding not to become lovers," Witt said. "That could never go now. So we changed it to someone seeing them together and starting rumors." Critics argue that the family hour won't shield many children from violence and sex. They cite projections from the A.C. Nielsen Co., which compiles the weekly TV SWIMMING POOLS--1975 STEtl WAUS. POOL KITS UtfU20ftiSft0e*tMt 32ftilSftx«ftDwMect ABOVE GROUND Mr POOLS NOW ON DISPLAY! WARRIOR SWIMMING POOL CO. 2141 MacCORKLE AVI. ST. ALBANS W. VA. PHONE722-253lor727-9363 MYwKTi ALUMINUM SIDING QA WE COVER ALL HIM f\ *f ANDOVERHANC Sq.Ft.lnstaHtd i Sash FREE window facing and sills covered with purchase of 10 or more windows ALUMMUM REPLACEMENT JJKHDOWS REMODELING ·ROOM ADDITIONS ·GARAGES ·ROOFS ·ENCLOSED PORCHES ·KITCHENS ·BATHROOMS ETC. CALL NOW! SAVE ALUMINUM BUILDING PRODUCTS CORP. 2141 MacCorkle Ave. St.Albans,W.Va. PH. 727-9363

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