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which allows revocation of exhibitor's licenses for failure to enforce the classifications.

Clearly, the motion-picture industry prefers self-regulation to censorship. The controlling mechanism has been integrated with the production process, and the administrators of the codes are familiar with production problems and methods. Preventive control is less expensive and more efficient than deletions and possible rejections of finished pictures. A rejected or mutilated movie is a waste, and the postproduction changes demanded by censor boards may ruin films. There is thus an enormous advantage in self-regulation over censorship. The latter inevitably is negative and uncreative.

The solution, the subcommittee feels, is improved self-regulation which is oriented to the needs of a mature screen purveying meaningful entertainment to mass audiences and which is entered into freely by the movie companies. The Production Code Administration has demonstrated that the control of pictures during the process of their production is, in the main, very sound. The technique now needs to be adapted to the demands of the widened social sphere which filmmakers have acquired.

In short, the subcommittee believes that the movies can realize their full promise only by unremitting effort from all concerned-the Government, the industry, and the public-each in its own sphere. It further believes that the industry, possessing most of the means, can cure the most serious ills of its own volition.


It would seem that the foreign censorship boards have taken a step in the right direction. The British board, which numbers a university professor in its ranks, and the Swedish board, which retains psychiatrists for advice, seem to have the most informed censorship. In fact, the Scandinavian countries, which retain psychiatrists on their film-censorship boards, seem to be the most advanced in this matter. The suggestion came forth during the hearings that the Production Code Administration consult social scientists on such subjects as violence and sex in motion pictures. From discussions with the staffs of both codes, the subcommittee feels that the utilization of the knowledge which obtains in the social-psychological fields would be of great value to the operation of both codes. With their knowledge of the motivating forces in human behavior, these professionals can readily perceive harmful film content that may be overlooked by people not trained to do so. The subcommittee, therefore, endorses the use of professional knowledge by the code staff, and conceivably a relationship could be established with the fine universities located close to both offices.

In her book, Freedom of the Movies, Inglis wrote:

*** the time has come to reconsider the basis, language, and current interpretation of the codes. As David O. Selznick suggested in 1940, the "set rules" of the codes are "dated" and should be revised. Editorially, the Screen Writer, the official publication of the Screen Writers' Guild, for July 1945, declared that Hollywood "may have to reconsider some of the senseless aspects of its censorship code." 1

On surveying the code, the subcommittee feels that while the basic principles are sound some of the restrictions in terms of subject matter,

61 Inglis, Ruth A., Freedom of the Movies, a report on self-regulation from the Commission on Freedom of the Press, the University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill.: 1947, p. 185.

for example, are not in keeping with the social changes that have transpired since it was written. While television has rendered hour after hour of drama dealing with many phases of various social problems, the Production Code still forbids the treatment of many of these subjects in motion pictures. The inequity of this situation is apparent, and indeed one independent producer is now making a film dealing with a social problem in defiance of the code. The publicity given this problem has indeed "dated" the section of the code forbidding its portrayal and the resultant revolt against it by indignant producers only tends to weaken the whole structure of self-regulation which has been developed in the past 30 years. The subcommittee feels that in the past the framework and administration of self-regulation have been overly moralistic and too closely related to the immediate expediency of the motion-picture industry. This lack of flexibility of story content is not surprising in view of the social attitudes in existence at the time of the code's inception. But a screen maturely performing the functions of mass communication demands a wider orientation. What is needed now is an effort on the part of the industry itself to perform the positive function of enlarging the scope of the screen.

The subcommittee feels that the board of directors of the Motion Picture Association of America should utilize its authority to review and propose changes in the Motion Picture Production and Advertising Codes, since at present they do not encourage the screen in attaining its full stature as a civic and artistic medium.

The board of directors should seek the consultation of responsible people representing diverse elements, including creative talent from within the industry, as well as educators, religious leaders and people trained in the behavioral sciences. While it already has the authority to perform these functions, the Motion Picture Association of America should increase its efforts to (1) reexamine the Motion Picture Production Code; and (2) function as a clearinghouse for criticism of films and suggestions for the broader use of the screen.

The Motion Picture Association of America should inaugurate two other important continuing functions: (1) It should report annually to the public on the number and kind of rejections and changes which are made in pictures during the production process; and (2) it should contest the decisions of censor boards which request additional changes or deletions, and which the association believes unwarranted. No. (1) above is considered to be of great importance by the subcommittee. As pointed out in section VI, without public review, the work of any private regulatory agency is open to abuse. Many of the most objectionable films in terms of public complaints had been changed drastically by the Production Code staff, and because the final version of the film may not have been to the liking of many people, the code has been unfairly criticized.

The motion-picture industry, by its own action, should place increasing stress on its role as a civic and informational agency conscious of the changing character of many social problems. The industry as a responsible member of society cannot shirk its obligation to promote, so far as possible, an intelligent understanding of domestic and international affairs. While the subcommittee has criticized in this report many films that motion-picture producers may feel were in this category, the criticism raised was not whether the social prob

lem should or should not be presented, e. g., Blackboard Jungle, but the manner of presentation, especially the emphasis on violence run rampant.

The public itself should insist upon the highest attainable accomplishment by the movies. Too often the customers fail to exert their influence. Newspapers and magazines could help by adopting the practice already followed by some of devoting regular space to serious criticism. In addition, every community should maintain one or more citizen's committees, not to further narrow purposes, but to encourage worthy achievement. These committees should be broadly representative, including persons jealous for the artistic integrity of the screen. The public has an important role to play also in encouraging the movie outside the commercial theater. Educational institutions, public libraries, churches, business clubs, trade unions, women's groups, and the like should cooperate in making available suitable films for nontheatrical audiences and in drawing on nationwide sources for information and comment to indicate to producers the principal needs. All such efforts would be greatly strengthened if universities and foundations should pay appropriate attention to this potential in American life. In particular, they should set up centers of advanced study and research, whose investigations and reports would incite both producers and public to higher standards. The subcommittee has, since the outset of its investigation into the mass media, advocated the granting of funds by foundations and the utilization of university facilities to determine the effect of the various media on behavior and the developing of criteria for programs of a positive nature.

Within the past year, several major studios have begun a program of producing movies that will be shown exclusively on television. Included are many "package shows," i. e., a series of 12-hour films that run many weeks on television. Because of the already existing connection between these major studios and the Production Code Administration the subcommittee recommends that they submit the films made for television to the Code Administration and go through the regular procedure of obtaining a Production Code Seal of Approval. This would not have to interfere with the functioning of the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters and the television code as they have no actual control over producers of films for television.

In summary, then, the subcommittee recommends:

(1) The consultation of professional people from the behavioral sciences by the Production Code Administration and the Advertising Code Administration.

(2) The board of directors of the Motion Picture Association inaugurate changes in the codes which are warranted in the light of the social changes which have taken place since they were written. An important function of the above organization would be to advertise the accomplishments of the codes to negate adverse criticism which arises as a result of public ignorance.

(3) The movie industry should recognize the value of adhering to code policies and assume its proper place as an intelligent, objective reporter of social problems to better prepare the viewing audience in understanding and coping with them.

(4) The public should recognize the potential they have in shaping the policy of film makers, who are very sensitive to the demands of the motion-picture audience.

(5) The development of research projects in universities to study the effects of all phases of the mass media and the development of criteria which can be used to develop presentations that can contribute to the ability of this country's future citizens to become productive and law abiding.

(6) The major studios who also produce movies for television should submit these films for the Production Code Seal of Approval. The violence and brutality in motion pictures which has coincided with increased behavior of this type on the part of young people must be counteracted with a strong insistence on the part of motion-picture producers to adhere to the principles of the Motion Picture Production Code which outlaw this type of film content. The motion-picture people must assume the responsibility of helping young children form opinions and attitudes that will help them meet the problems of living in our complex society to the best interests of both.



(Effective March 1, 1952; second edition March 1954)

(By the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters,

Washington, D. C.)


Television is seen and heard in every type of American home. These homes include children and adults of all ages, embrace all races and all varieties of religious faith, and reach those of every educational background. It is the responsibility of television to bear constantly in mind that the audience is primarily a home audience, and consequently that television's relationship to the viewers is that between guest and host.

The revenues from advertising support the free, competitive American system of telecasting, and make available to the eyes and ears of the American people the finest programs of information, education, culture and entertainment. By law the television broadcaster is responsible for the programming of his station. He, however, is obligated to bring his positive responsibility for excellence and good taste in programming to bear upon all who have a hand in the production of programs, including networks, sponsors, producers of film and of live programs, advertising agencies, and talent agencies.

The American businesses which utilize television for conveying their advertising messages to the home by pictures with sound, seen free-of-charge on the home screen, are reminded that their responsibilities are not limited to the sale of goods and the creation of a favorable attitude toward the sponsor by the presentation of entertainment. They include, as well, responsibility for utilizing television to bring the best programs, regardless of kind, into American homes. Television, and all who participate in it are jointly accountable to the American public for respect for the special needs of children, for community responsibility, for the advancement of education and culture, for the acceptability of the program materials chosen, for decency and decorum in production, and for propriety in advertising. This responsibility cannot be discharged by any given group of programs, but can be discharged only through the highest standards of respect for the American home, applied to every moment of every program presented by television.

In order that television programming may best serve the public interest, viewers should be encouraged to make their criticisms and positive suggestions known to the television broadcasters. Parents in particular should be urged to see to it that out of the richness of television fare, the best programs are brought to the attention of their children.


1. Commercial television provides a valuable means of augmenting the educational and cultural influences of schools, institutions of higher learning, the home, the church, museums, foundations, and other institutions devoted to education and culture.

2. It is the responsibility of a television broadcaster to call upon such institutions for counsel and cooperation and to work with them on the best methods of presenting educational and cultural materials by television. It is further the responsibility of stations, networks, advertising agencies and sponsors consciously to seek opportunities for introducing into telecasts factual materials which will aid in the enlightenment of the American public.

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