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Special Event

Gore Warns to Entertainment Industries to Clean Up Their Act

Aired September 11, 2000 - 3:36 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Lou Waters here at CNN Center.

We're off to Bellville, Illinois, Illinois one of the battleground states in the presidential election. Al Gore campaigning hard, the subject today education, a strong subject with women voters, whom Al Gore is, according to recent polls, scoring rather successfully as of late.

Let's listen to what the vice president has to say.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ALBERT A. GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... put out a report showing how many millions of children come home to an empty house after school.

Joe Lieberman and I are proposing a very large program to help local communities establish, more broadly, high-quality after-school programs so that parents who are working can have a higher level of confidence that their children are not going to get into some mischief or danger and instead will get an enriching experience after school.

I believe we ought to have universal pre-school, expanding Head Start and then going beyond that as well. I think we need more child care. And I think that when parents decide that one of them should stay home longer after a baby is born, it ought to be economically feasible for them to make that choice. We ought to give tax credits for that as well as for child care for working parents.

(APPLAUSE)

And in addition, we have to take on the challenge of how the popular culture competes with parents when we try to raise our children. And I bring this up with special emphasis today because today the Federal Trade Commission just released a very troubling report showing that the majority of all underage children are the targets of marketing campaigns by the entertainment industries to persuade them to come and be exposed to mature and adult material that they themselves -- the companies -- have said is not appropriate for children.

We saw, for example, the video game "Doom," that was a source of obsession by the two young men charged with the killing at Columbine High School. We have seen a number of shocking incidents of violence by young people. And in a number of the cases, afterwards they have talked about their obsession with particularly violent images that they have been exposed to.

Now nobody's for censorship. We have a First Amendment, and we're going to respect and protect the First Amendment. But parents have a right to play a meaningful role in sheltering their children from adult and mature material and explicit violence that their children are not just ready to handle -- are just not ready to handle.

Now here's the essence of the report that came out today.

While these industries have taken some commendable steps to establish policies, such as labeling their material, rating their material, going through the motions of trying to restrict access to children of a certain age, what the study found is that at the same time these industries are establishing these standards and assuring parents that they're going to protect children, the marketing divisions of some of these companies have spelled out in great detail exactly how much money they're spending and how they're going about attracting underage children to come and buy tickets or buy the games or buy the CDs of the very material that the companies themselves have said is inappropriate for children.

In some cases, children as young as 6 are targeted as markets for adult material. In other cases, companies were found to have said in their files, "This is our plan for trying to persuade every 12-year- old in the country to go and see this particular R-rated movie."

Now, if parents are given the assurance by the industry that there's going to be self-restraint and responsible corporate citizenship, and then surreptitiously they're putting ads in teen magazines and advertising on Saturday morning children's programming underneath the parents' radar screen, trying to persuade the kids to get into the -- to see the material or buy the video games or CDs without the parents' knowledge, that's just plain wrong. And if the retailers are not cooperating with the industry standards, that's wrong, too.

So, Joe Lieberman and I are saying the following three things. Number one, I call on these industries for an immediate cease-fire; stop targeting, advertising for adult material to young children, when you say it's inappropriate for young children.

(APPLAUSE)

Secondly, I know that the best solution for this is self- regulation, self-restraint, an industry policy that all of the companies buy into, to stop doing what is clearly wrong. So we're going -- Joe and I are going to establish a six-month period to hold the industry accountable.

If, at the end of that six-month period, there is not yet an acceptable industry response, then we're prepared to go to step three, and that is to evaluate whether additional legislation is needed, not on the content of the material, that's protected by the First Amendment. But false and deceptive advertising is illegal under the current laws, no matter what industry it is.

And if they are saying to parents in one breath, "We're going to work with you and we're going to protect children," and then behind the scenes they're advertising directly to children to attract them to the material they're not ready to handle, that is false and deceptive as an advertising strategy...

WATERS: Al Gore in Belleville, Illinois, capitalizing on the FTC report, which was commissioned after the Columbine High School shootings by the president to get to some conclusions about youth violence in America. The conclusion of the FTC report that Hollywood, the video makers and the music makers were marketing their violent product to children. And you just heard Al Gore say that he and Joseph Lieberman plan to do something about it if the industry does not, as the vice president put it, clean up its act.

Education was the subject in Illinois, but it seems as though the FTC report is the order of the day.

Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman will also be appearing on Oprah Winfrey today on that subject.

I'm Lou Waters at CNN Center.

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