BIG GOV'T AGENCIES SKIP TV VIOLENCE BUT EVEN BACKERS PREDICT LITTLE IMPACT FROM ADVERTISING STANCE

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WASHINGTON-Broadcasters and advertisers predict little or no impact resulting from pledges signed by the government's top three TV advertisers to refrain from buying commercial time during excessively violent programs.

Sen. Bob Graham (D., Fla.) said the Department of Defense, Amtrak and the U.S. Postal Service agreed not to buy ads during shows containing violence "with no redeeming social value" that is "inappropriate or unnecessary in relation to the story depicted."

Documentaries, news and sports programs are generally excluded from the deal, and the agencies themselves will determine, with advice from outside monitors, whether a show qualifies as excessively violent.

Because the agreement is voluntary, there will be no enforcement mechanism.

John Kamp, senior VP of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, praised Sen. Graham for reaching a non-legislative agreement.

He described the pledges as "a normal client-agency issue. Every client says there are certain media environments they do not want to advertise in."

Aside from a few possible changes in media buys, Mr. Kamp said, "Frankly, I'd be sort of surprised if there's any practical effect at all."

A National Association of Broadcasters spokeswoman reacted similarly: "Obviously our stations are responsible and their programming is responsible. Very few air programming with excessive violence."

Amtrak, the postal service and the Department of Defense spent a combined $68.3 million on TV advertising in 1994, and a spokeswoman for Sen. Graham said she did not expect that number to go down as a result of the agreement.

Ms. Hontz is a reporter with Electronic Media.

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