Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization representing 1,000 synagogues nationwide – joined with Senators Joe Lieberman and Sam Brownback to oppose the recently concluded agreement to revise the rating system for television programming. In doing so, the Orthodox Union broke ranks with other public interest advocacy groups that it had joined with to oppose the original rating system developed by the media industry. The Union was the only national religious group participating in the opposition coalition.
The new rating system, negotiated by representatives of the major TV networks and a small delegation of the advocacy coalition, will add to the current age-based system an additional set of indicators for whether the television program contains sexual content, violence, coarse language or suggestive dialogue [“S”, “V”, “L”, or “D”]. In exchange for these additions, key Representatives and Senators have agreed not to press for additional measures to govern TV programs for three years; Senators Lieberman and Brownback have refused to make this concession. The Orthodox Union objects to this new proposal because it is still too vague and too broad to effectively inform parents about what the programs contain.
Nathan Diament, director of the Union’s Institute for Public Affairs, issued the following statement at a Capitol Hill press conference:
“The agreement is a step in the right direction, but not much more than a baby step. The point of a ratings system is to give parents the accurate information they need so that they may properly monitor and guide their children’s television viewing. The new additions to the rating system are still too broad to really tell parents what their children will be exposed to in a particular program. While we do not expect a rating system and v-chip technology to substitute for good parenting, we do expect the producers of TV to be as responsible in listing the content of their products as food manufacturers are with nutrition labels that provide consumers with the possibility of making informed choices. This new agreement still falls far short of the mark, and we will work with Senators Brownback and Lieberman toward the introduction of a truly effective and useful TV ratings system.”