White House on TV Violence

President Clinton stated in his State of the Union address of January 23, 1996: “Our first challenge is to cherish our children and strengthen America’s families. . .I challenge the broadcast industry to do what movies have done — to identify your programming in ways that help parents to protect their children. And I invite the leaders of major media corporations in the entertainment industry to come to the White House next month to work with us in a positive way on concrete ways to improve what our children see on television. I am ready to work with you.”

A television ratings system. Today, President Clinton met with executives from the media and entertainment industry, and announced a breakthrough agreement to develop a voluntary ratings system that will help parents protect their children from violence and adult content on TV. The industry’s development of this ratings system is in response to the challenge issued by the President in his State of the Union address.

  • A new industry standard. The broadcast industry executives have agreed that there will be an industry-wide standard for the ratings system. The system will be in place by the end of the year, and will help reduce the effects of televised violence and sex on our children. 
  • The V-Chip and the Telecommunications Bill – Giving parents the tools they need. The ratings system will be compatible with the V-Chip, which the President signed into law in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This will help parents to take responsibility over what their children watch on television by letting them block shows with certain ratings. 
  • Children’s programming. It is not enough for parents to choose what their children should not watch. The President believes we need to improve both the quality and quantity of programming that is aimed at enriching the lives of children in America.

Presidential leadership. This meeting with broadcast industry executives demonstrates that with innovative Presidential leadership, responsible corporations can help us meet America’s challenges. 

  • Affirming our values by working together. America is stronger if our families are stronger. But we must give responsible parents the tools they need to do their job. By encouraging the entertainment industry to adopt a ratings system, the President has helped to meet that challenge — not through coercion or a new government program, but by a call for all of us to work together to find practical solutions that solve real problems. 
  • Corporate responsibility. In rising to President Clinton’s challenge and making a commitment to the common good as well as their bottom line, these captains of industry have also been responsible citizens. In another Presidential initiative, and with help from technological innovators such as Bill Gates of Microsoft, every classroom in America will be linked to the Internet by the year 2000. With Project XL, the President is cutting red tape to preserve our environment, challenging industrial leaders like AT&T to find new ways to comply with environmental rules while working with their local communities. The President is also working with CEO’s across America to establish family-friendly workplaces. This meeting with broadcast industry executives demonstrates that with innovative Presidential leadership, responsible corporations can help us meet America’s challenges.

Support PBS NewsHour: