Study Finds Cable-TV Violence Leads To Network-TV Violence

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Vol 39 Issue 40

Deep Down, Woman Knows She's Watching Entire Trading Spaces Marathon

WINNSBORO, LA—On some level, college professor Lynnda Dale, 48, knows she'll watch this Saturday's entire 12-episode Trading Spaces marathon, Dale almost acknowledged Monday. "Hey, I sorta like that stupid show," said Dale, when she spotted the row of listings for the TLC home-makeover series. "I've got a lot to do, so I'll just watch one episode. But on the off chance that I get sucked in, I can do those lesson plans the next day." Dale said that if she does tune in to the marathon, she won't pay close attention to the show, but will only keep it on for background noise as she does housework.

God's Gift To Women Returned

TUCSON, AZ—Moments after unsuccessfully propositioning all of the female patrons at the Kon Tiki Lounge, God's gift to women, 31-year-old Patrick Roland, was returned to his maker Monday night. "That Pat guy was cute, but he sure was pushy," said Debbie Werner, a fellow Lounge patron. "He kept trying to buy me Cosmos, but I told him to buzz off. A few minutes later, he stumbled out the door and got run over by a bus." Werner said she hopes that next time God's feeling generous, He gives women something more useful, like money.

79-Year-Old Still Saving For Future

OLATHE, KS—Frances Buntz, 79, continues to work diligently as a file clerk at Kansas State Insurance and save any extra money she can, Buntz said Monday. "When my husband had a stroke eight years ago, all of our savings went to bills," said Buntz, momentarily resting her weight on her cane. "Since then, I've been trying to build up a little nest egg." Buntz said she hopes to someday invest in a nice little place to settle down, or some medicine.

MacArthur Genius Grant Goes Right Up Recipient's Nose

ALBANY, NY—According to friends, the $500,000, five-year, no-strings-attached MacArthur Fellowship awarded to Jim Yong Kim earlier this month went right up the 43-year-old scientist's nose. "Kim's efforts to eradicate drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis in Russian prisons and Peruvian ghettos amazed everyone—as did his appetite for top-grade cocaine," Marisa Amir said Monday. "As soon as that first check arrived, Kim was on the phone with his dealer, and two hours later, he was in a hot tub full of strippers." His first installment of money gone, the scientist then returned to the task of developing a whole-cell cholera toxin recombinant B subunit vaccine.

Bush Disappointed To Learn Chinese Foreign Minister Doesn't Know Karate

WASHINGTON, DC—While he still plans to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, President Bush was disappointed to learn that the dignitary does not know karate, White House adviser Karl Rove told reporters Tuesday. "I told George that karate is an ancient martial art of Japan, not China," Rove said. "I told him that in China, many practice kung fu—but I recommended that he stick to the more vital issue of relations with Taiwan and North Korea." In spite of Rove's suggestion, Bush plans to ask Zhaoxing to "do some of that Jackie Chan action."

Lieberman Pledges To Gloss Over The Boring Issues

HARTFORD, CT—Eager to distinguish himself in the nine-member field of Democratic candidates, presidential hopeful Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) pledged Monday to "gloss over any and all issues boring to Americans today."

No Prison Can Hold Me, As Long As I Have My Imagination

Why, hello there! Come and have a seat next to me on the sand and gaze out over the ocean at the beautiful sunset. Listen to the caw of the seagulls! Hear the lapping of the waves against the dock! Take your shoes off, if you like. What's that you say? I'm sitting on my bunk at the Pelican Bay Correctional Facility? I'm sorry, but inmate #454336 doesn't care to limit himself to sitting inside these four walls. You see, while I'm doing 60 years to life for stabbing three elderly women to death, I can go anywhere my imagination takes me!
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Study Finds Cable-TV Violence Leads To Network-TV Violence

LOS ANGELES—A two-year study of television programming has established a link between cable-TV violence and violent scenarios on network television, the Institute for Media Research announced Monday.

A violent scenario from the cable series <i>The Sopranos</i>.

"Our data shows that cable violence, particularly the more brutal, consequence-free violence found on premium-cable channels like HBO, leads to violence on broadcast channels like ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox," IMR researcher Donald Peck said. "This phenomenon has created an ever-widening spiral of violence on our nation's airwaves."

Peck said the IMR based its report on analysis of 700,000 hours of cable- and network-TV broadcasts from the past 20 years. According to the report, prior to the advent of cable television, relatively little gratuitous violence aired on network television. In the years since the proliferation of cable, however, incidents of violent entertainment have increased dramatically.

"Back in the late '70s, when cable was in its infancy, the most violent image you were likely to see on network television was the Incredible Hulk bending a metal bar," Peck said. "Now, entire network programs, like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, are devoted to violent sexual assault. Where is this behavior coming from? It must have been learned somewhere, or people on TV would still emerge from car wrecks dazed but uninjured."

"Something must be done to stop this cycle of violence," Peck added. "It's killing America's TV children."

According to IMR statistics, a cable-television character is killed once every seven minutes. Between 9 and 11 p.m. EST, that rate is even higher.

"Some will argue that cable-TV violence is irrelevant to the real problem—violence on the nation's broadcast channels," Peck said. "But our study revealed that cable television has a quantifiable effect on young network shows. Impressionable shows often look up to their cable counterparts—who have greater freedom—and imitate them in an effort to stay 'edgy.'"

Peck said that even when cable networks aren't emulating cable shows, they often use cable shows to justify their own violent content.

"Networks see The Sopranos and The Shield, and they think they're seeing normal TV reality," Peck said. "They use it to justify their own violent content on everything from their family dramas to their police and courtroom thrillers."

Peck said that, ironically, television crime fighters are the most significant perpetrators of TV violence.

"TV cops say they're fighting violence, but more often than not, their own shows are the worst offenders," Peck said. "The cops on Law & Order claim to be working for the good of minor characters, but the more violent criminals they find and convict, the more spin-offs they create. These shows trade in the violence they purportedly denounce, and the violence spreads like a disease to other channels."

Peck said the study found that when violence begins to spread on the network level, the overall negative effect on the safety of television characters increases dramatically.

"Even though the acts depicted on network television tend to be less violent than those depicted on cable, there are more of them, and the net result is an increase in the amount of episodic violence," Peck said. "In this way, they do more damage than the premium-cable programs they emulate could ever do—even ones as popular as The Sopranos or Oz."

"Our findings are hardly surprising," Peck added. "Just last month, we released a similar report linking sexual promiscuity on cable shows like Sex And The City to increased sexual activity on young network shows like Coupling."

Sandra Gunderfeld, a member of the San Francisco-based television-character advocacy organization Stop All The Violence, expressed dismay at the IMR's findings.

"The fictionalized depiction of crime and violence is the greatest problem facing Americans on TV today," Gunderfeld said. "The IMR's message is clear. If we want to stop violence on network television, we need to attack it at its source: cable television. That's the way to make all of TV Land safer."

Fictional detective Andy Sipowicz said he is no stranger to the harsh reality of make-believe violence on network-television streets.

"It's true that something must be done," said the long-running character, speaking words written by NYPD Blue creator Steven Bochco. "You don't know what it's like for us imaginary characters out there on the front lines of America's TV streets."

"Every day, our made-up lives are on the line," Sipowicz continued. "If we catch a bullet, there's no way of knowing what could happen, at least not until after the next commercial break. Many who have fallen in the line of duty never make it back into the storyline. They're gone forever."

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