Since we became involved in this issue, I and other members of
the NAB staff have been in regular contact with Mrs. Tipper Gore
and Mrs. Susan Baker and other leaders of the Parents Music Resource
Center. Last week at the Radio Management and Programming Conference
in Dallas, NAB sponsored a major session on this issue which I
chaired. It featured presentations by Mrs. Gore and others from
the PMRC, and by Stanley Gortikov, president of the RIAA, who
graciously agreed to participate on the panel.
I view this panel as another step in our effort to make broadcasters understand the nature of the public concern about the issue so that they can formulate an appropriate response.
The FCC expects each licensee to determine what the words or lyrics on a record are before the record is broadcast, and the FCC holds each broadcast licensee responsible for what it puts on the air. But even more importantly, broadcasters are held responsible in their local communities. If our listeners and our advertisers are not pleased with us, they will turn us off, the ultimate censor.
Each station must choose for itself how best to serve its own respective community, and not all listeners will like what every station in the marketplace has to offer. NAB will never attempt to intrude into any station's programming judgments. What we have endeavored to do is to balance the need for voluntary industry restraint with a strong sensitivity to first amendment concerns.
I think this effort has been successful. All in our industry now know that there is a problem which needs to be addressed and that they must make a conscious decision about how to respond to the concerns about porn rock as they go about serving their audiences in their respective communities.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The statement follows:]
STATEMENT OF EDWARD O. FRITTS, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BROADCASTERSMr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee, my name is Edward O. Fritts. I am president of the National Association of Broadcasters ("NAB"), an organization which represents more than 4500 radio stations, 850 television stations, and the major commercial broadcast networks. I appreciate the opportunity to join with you today to discuss the problem of what has come to be called "porn rock."
Before talking about what NAB has done to respond to this phenomenon, I think it is important to focus on the scope of the problem itself. More than 25,000 individual songs are released on record in the United States every year. Not all of these, of course, are rock music, and many recordings — much to the disapointment [sic] of the artists and their record companies — rapidly go from release to obscurity. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that literally thousands of songs are competing form [sic] public attention in the rock music marketplace each year.
Of this number, a small group have lyrics which are so sexually explicit or violent, or deal with the use of drugs and alcohol or with the occult in such a way as to raise some parental concern. Those parents who are concerned fear that the music at issue may have a detrimental impact on their children. Of this limited number of songs, only a very few ever receive any meaningful airplay.
I bring this information to the subcommittee's attention, Mr. Chairman, not to minimize the importance of the subject we are discussing today, but because — especially in several of the press reports in recent months — there has been some tendency to confuse the exceptions with the rule.
Now, what has NAB done to respond to this problem? As a trade association the main avenue of action open to us when a problem such as this arises is to generate industry awareness and sensitivity, and, particularly, the awareness of those at the top. Therefore, on May 13, 1985, I wrote executives of the more than 800 radio and television station group owners in the United States to alert them to the public