Posted on April 8, 1997 In Press Releases

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America — the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization — joined with other concerned groups in submitting comments to the Federal Communications Commission with regard to the television industry’s proposed rating system for TV programs. The comments submitted by the coalition of groups, as well as the separate comments submitted by the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs call of the FCC to find the proposed system — a system that rates programs by age-based categories rather than through content descriptions — to be “unacceptable.”

Both the Orthodox Union’s and the coalitions comments contend that in order to be “acceptable,” the proposed system must serve the goals
intended by Congress when it passed legislation requiring the development of the “V-Chip” technology and a rating system to work with that technology. The comments contend that Congress’ intent was that a system be created that would empower parents to guide the television viewing habits of their children. The proposed age-based system fails to accomplish that goal because it is too vague to be of any use. Just one example: a significant majority of programs fall into a single category [the expansive “TV-PG”], giving parents almost no guidance on why the program was so designated and whether a “TV-PG” program is suitable for their child.

Nathan Diament, director of the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs, issued the following statement in conjunction with a press conference held this morning in Washington, D.C., to announce the filing of the coalition’s comments:

“We are pleased to join in this important effort to assist parents in the monumental task of raising morally healthy children. At this time of year, Jews are about to celebrate the holiday of Passover. A key theme of this holiday is the centrality of the home as an educational environment and parents as teachers of their children. It is for this reason that the festive Passover meal — during which parents explain the historical and religious significance of the holiday — takes place in the home and not the synagogue. The Orthodox Union is committed to ensuring that parents receive the necessary tools to educate their children. In this television age, a system of content-based program ratings that fully informs parents about what their children are viewing is indispensable.”