Movies blamed for TV violence

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES Put the blame for TV violence where it belongs: the movies.

The bloodiest hours on television are those filled with action-adventure films transplanted from movie theaters, according to a study of the 1994-95 season by the University of California-Los Angeles.

Prime-time series television fared better under the scrutiny.

''We found relatively few issues of great concern within television series,'' said Jeffrey Cole, director of the university's Center for Communications Policy. ''The picture is not as hopeful with regard to theatrical films on television.''

The UCLA Television Violence Monitoring Report released Tuesday found that of 121 TV series airing last season, 10 were frequently violent or used violence in questionable ways graphically or heroically, for example, Cole said.

By contrast, of 118 films in the study, 50 about 42 percent raised concerns about violence. In one, ''Marked for Death,'' Cole said, ''you can hear the spine crack and almost see an impalement.''

Children's Saturday morning programming as well as promotional spots also took hits in the report.

In children's programming, the study particularly criticized shows that featured what Cole called ''sinister combat violence'' unrelenting fights between figures of good and evil. Shows singled out include ''X-Men'' and ''Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.''

Cole stressed that the study did not simply tally violent acts in any program, but tried to look at violent scenes in context, such as whether scenes are particularly gory or whether viewers are made aware of the consequences of the violence depicted.

In that analysis, shows such as ''NYPD Blue'' and ''Law & Order'' were commended for their restrained handling of violence.

The series that had the most questionable violence 12 over the season were ''Walker, Texas, Ranger,'' ''Mantis'' and ''The X-Files.''

Other series noted were ''Due South,'' ''Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,'' ''Fortune Hunter,'' ''Tales from the Crypt'' and ''America's Funniest Home Videos.''

Still, the study said, violence on prime-time shows appears to have diminished on all networks.

Sen. Paul Simon, an Illinois Democrat who helped strike a network deal for independent monitoring, called the report impressive.

''We've come a long way from the days when the industry denied any problem and spurned even the idea of change,'' Simon said.

The $500,000 study was financed by ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox Broadcasting Co., but Cole said the researchers were not under network control. He said the networks received copies of the 181-page study at the same time it was publicly released.

Although Cole welcomed the networks' decision to take part in the study, he noted that it was largely the result of political pressure brought by members of Congress and others concerned about TV violence.

The UCLA study is the first of three reports that are part of the network-financed project. The next report, reviewing the 1995-96 season, will be released next year and also will include a review of networks' responses to the center's initial findings.

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