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Entertainment Groups Launch Effort to Let Parents Screen Out Violent Content

Lobbying groups for the entertainment industry on Wednesday announced plans to roll out a campaign to showcase a ratings system and online tools that can help parents keep tabs on what kids watch.

It is yet another example of how various industry groups have responded to the backlash against guns, violent video games and violent television and film content following the December shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The effort is a collaboration between the Motion Picture Association of America, the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, DirecTV, Verizon Communications Inc., the American Cable Association and the National Association of Theatre Owners. The group does not include representatives from the video game industry.

The coalition plans to roll out new initiatives in the coming months, including a public service campaign featuring advertising spots already created by the Ad Council, messages about the film rating system, a redesign of site that helps parents block certain types of content and a re-launch of to offer more information on what ratings mean.

The groups also will work with media and other organizations to “develop public service initiatives related to mental health,” according to a press release announcing the effort.

MPAA spokesman Howard Gantman said that even though “there’s been significant outreach in the past about some of these tools … we find in today’s climate that a lot of people don’t really focus on the fact that these tools are available.” He added in an email: “This initiative is a significant and substantial effort to improve consumer awareness of the TV and film ratings systems, television parental controls and the value of media literacy.”

After the shooting in Newtown, former Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., who heads the MPAA, said his industry would participate in the dialogue about how to stop such events.

Members of Congress and the Obama administration have grappled in the weeks since the shooting, which left 20 elementary school children and six teachers and administrators dead, with how to curb real-life violence. Violence in the media, in addition to possible gun-control measures, have factored in the discussions.

“As a citizen of Connecticut and having represented the people there for 36 years in Washington, I have been shocked and profoundly saddened by this tragedy,” Dodd said following the shooting. “Those of us in the motion picture and television industry want to do our part to help America heal. We stand ready to be part of the national conversation.”

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