Jack Myers, president of Myers Communications, New York, last week presented his plan for the National Media Advisory Board to many attendees of the Association of National Advertisers conference here.
Through the advisory board, Mr. Myers wants to survey all parties affected by the TV violence debate-advertisers, networks, legislators and others-to gauge support for a ratings board.
The advisory board would just research the issue, but wouldn't be the panel to issue ratings itself.
Mr. Myers has asked the ANA for funding and for help in gathering the opinions of ANA members on the issue.
"It's my belief that advertisers have to take the initiative and be pro-active in order to drive support from other constituencies," Mr. Myers said.
His timing is good. The most lively debate at the ANA meeting centered on TV violence, as several members called it "the most pressing issue facing advertisers today."
The ANA has said in the past it is interested in exploring violence rating systems.
"Whether we will take further action remains to be seen," said Dan Jaffe, the ANA's exec VP for government relations.
Legislation making its way through Congress demands industry attention.
Versions of the telecommunications bill passed in the House and Senate this summer require broadcasters to develop a ratings system within a year or risk involvement of the Federal Communications Commission.
Several advertising and entertainment moguls have agreed to serve as advisers on Mr. Myers' project.
They include Brandon Tartikoff, chairman of New World Entertainment; Gary Moss, VP-global advertising, Campbell Soup Co.; Ira Carlin, director of worldwide media for McCann-Erickson North America, New York; Richard Lindheim, exec VP of Paramount Television; David Tenzer, an agent with Creative Artists Agency, Beverly Hills, Calif.; and Greg Coleman, publisher of Reader's Digest.
"To pretend this is a network or Hollywood problem is naive," said Mr. Moss. "The consumer sees advertisers as the sponsor or endorser of these programs."
In a September newsletter, Mr. Myers proposed seven ratings that would flag shows acceptable for all audiences; for ages 6 and over; ages 12 and over; or advise parental discretion based on sexual, violent, or otherwise controversial content.
A final rating, "V-chip," would recommend extreme programming be blocked from TV sets.
Mr. Myers stressed he is not set on any particular ratings.
"I'll be very pleased to help with analysis and recommendations and then step out of the way in favor of an organization developed and funded by the networks," he said.
A network-funded ratings board would resemble the Motion Picture Association of America, a self-regulatory body created by the film industry.
While Mr. Myers says 90% of the 100 advertising and entertainment executives he's surveyed are in favor of an industry regulatory board, widespread marketer support is not guaranteed.
A straw poll conducted at the ANA meeting yielded mixed results.
When panelists discussing TV violence asked roughly 100 audience members whether they favored a ratings system, about 10 said yes.
When asked if they preferred industry ratings to government ratings, more than half raised their hands.
BIRTH DATE: Oct. 12, 1947, Utica, N.Y.
EDUCATION: Master's in media ecology, New York University, 1973; B.S., TV/Radio, Syracuse University, 1965
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Various sales positions with ABC Radio, Metromedia Out-of-Home and RKO; sales manager, WCBS-TV, 1976-79; director of marketing, CBS-TV, 1980-81; founded Myers Communications in 1982.