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June 20, 2001 10:52pm
Lieberman Letter Lobbies Bush
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
by: Tamara Conniff

(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- President George W. Bush is being asked by Sen. Joseph Lieberman to support a bill that would give federal regulators the authority to penalize media companies that market adult-rated materials to children.

In a draft letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Lieberman, D-Conn., urges Bush to support the Media Marketing Accountability Act -- legislation introduced in April by Lieberman, and Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Herb Kohl, D-Wis. Reps. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., and Tom Osborne, R-Neb., are expected to introduce the bill in the House of Representatives.

The letter contends that the entertainment industry has been "targeting heavily violent content meant for adults directly to our children" and the legislation needs to be put into place to help "protect" America's youths.

Creative Coalition, a nonprofit organization, and others in the entertainment industry -- including Robin Williams, Ben Stiller, Lauren Bacall, Recording Industry Association of America (news - web sites) president Hilary Rosen, HBO chairman & CEO Jeff Bewkes and William Baldwin -- issued a statement criticizing the bill and claiming that it may violate the First Amendment.

"Sen. Lieberman knows this bill is unconstitutional. ... Most people know it's unconstitutional and the majority of Americans don't want government regulation in this area," Rosen said. "This is nothing more than an end run at the content."

Baldwin pointed out in a statement that any government role in defining what is and what is not acceptable entertainment "is an indirect form of censorship."

"The threat of civil penalties is an extreme reaction to a problem whose solution lies in voluntary self-regulation by the creative industries -- action these industries have successfully undertaken and continue to improve upon," the actor said.

"We are not trying to tell the entertainment industry what to produce," Lieberman's letter said. "We know it would be unconstitutional to regulate the content of their products. ... We are simply saying that if a movie studio, record producer or video game maker voluntarily labels something as unsuitable for children, then they should not market those products directly to children."

Sources on Capitol Hill said it is unlikely that the bill will pass.

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