FIRST OFF . . .
A renewed effort in Congress to curb violence on television has raised the ire of a civil rights organization and broadcasters who charge that the move could bring government censorship of TV. Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and Rep. Dan Glickman (D-Kan.), saying there was overwhelming evidence of a link between excessive violence on television and children’s behavior, have re-introduced a bill that would grant a three-year antitrust exemption to the television industry so that networks, local stations, the cable industry and producers could formulate voluntary guidelines on depicting violence. The bill is identical to a measure the two offered unsuccessfully last year. The National Assn. of Broadcasters and the ACLU believe the bill raises serious First Amendment concerns; they charge that “There is nothing voluntary about guidelines that emerge from a regulated industry after Congress has instructed it about specific programming it finds objectionable. . . . Can it ever be truly voluntary when you have the government breathing down your neck?” Simon said he did not intend to censor television or circumvent First Amendment protections for free speech.