U.S. SHOULD LEAD BY EXAMPLE

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A U.S. senator's proposal that Congress ban paid government ads from TV shows deemed too violent has been called censorship. Ridiculous. We like the idea, offered by Sen. Bob Graham (D., Fla.), for several reasons.

First, it's a put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is move. If Congress is concerned there's too much violence on TV, why should Washington support such shows with any of its $153 million in ad funds?

No advertiser, Uncle Sam included, should feel obliged to advertise on programs that offend its own sensibilities. The U.S. Army, the largest federal advertiser, and many private sector advertisers already screen their media buys for violence. Insisting all federal advertisers do the same places Washington in a stronger moral position when urging corporate advertisers to follow its lead.

Second, this idea does not involve government ordering other advertisers to pull their ad dollars. That is government censorship, plain and simple.

And third, we're eager to see how government determines its off-limits shows.

The National Telecommunications Information Administration is supposed to share with all advertisers the reports on TV violence it gets from non-profit groups. That's a starting point.

But this is government, remember, so it's a safe bet there will soon be pressure to add to the "forbidden" list shows that offend the women's caucus, the black caucus, the Hispanic caucus, the politically correct caucus, etc., etc.

Even the "just say no" approach to violent TV shows can backfire on Sen. Graham. If the rush to social responsibility ignores the need to also choose media that efficiently deliver target audiences, his potentially good idea just turns into more government waste.

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