. . .
lyrics began to rise with the introduction of rock and roll more than
30 years ago.
Senator GORE. Mr. Chairman, I am having trouble hearing the witness.
The CHAIRMAN. If you would withhold, Ms. Waterman, I want to apologize for the noise. If the officer could keep the door closed, I would very much appreciate it.
Mrs. WATERMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Throughout the history of recorded music, there have been complaints about the contents of some songs. The outcry over music lyrics began to rise with the introduction of rock and roll. While parents and others interested in the well being of children have continued to voice their concerns, the recording industry took no action to address this current concern until August of 1985.
Briefly, the problem is that there are many songs which include lyrics that may not be appropriate for young children or that send messages that may be dangerous to individuals or society. Some examples of songs that might be inappropriate for children are those that contain profane language, sexual references, vulgarity or violence. Those that could be dangerous to individuals or society invlude songs that promote suicide, practice of the occult, rape, incest, murder or bondage, among others.
Until now, no one has suggested a reasonable solution to the problem. By reasonable, we mean a solution that would not involve any form of censorship but would protect consumers from exposure to materials they feel may be harmful to themselves or children. Until 1984, no specific proposals were made or acted upon by either the public or the industry, at least none that we know of, that did not involve censorship.
In June of 1984, the National PTA's convention body, representing the 5.6 million members of the PTA, adopted a resolution which points out that an unsuspecting public may buy records, tapes and cassettes which contain explicit language, sexual references and inferences to situations not commonly recommended for all age groups. Further, it addressed the fact that there is currently no rating system in use for evaluating the content of recordings, nor any markings on jackets or covers to indicate the content. The resolution calls on the PTA to encourage recording companies to consider the explicit contents of some songs and their responsibility to an unsuspecting public. It also calls for recording companies to label record, tape and cassette covers and indicate the nature of the questionable content.
In October of 1984 the president of the National PTA sent a letter to 30 record companies and the Recording Industry Association of America explaining the resolution and suggesting that the industry convene a panel of consumer, industry and recording artist representatives to establish standards that all record companies could apply to determine which recordings need to bear a warning label.
Because our proposal to establish standards has been met with misunderstanding and confusion in the music industry, I would like to clarify it for this committee. We are not suggesting that the panel review every new song and rate it accordingly. We are