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MPAA chief finds decency clampdown worrisome


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LAS VEGAS, (Reuters) - Jack Valenti, head of The Motion Picture Association of America, said Monday the recent clampdown by federal authorities on decency standards for U.S. airwaves would be worrisome if it infringed on people's free speech rights.

Valenti heads the MPAA, which represents the interests of Hollywood's major motion picture studios in Washington, and has long been a champion of First Amendment rights and freedom of expression in the arts.

The First Amendment "is the one (part) of the Constitution that guarantees all others. If you don't have freedom of speech, what do you have? So, I worry about that," Valenti said at the ShoWest movie theater convention in Las Vegas.

But Valenti added that with access to the nation's television and radio airwaves comes a certain amount of responsibility on the part of entertainers and distribution companies to let audiences know what type of content they will be getting before they receive it.

For years, the MPAA has rated films according to whether the content in them -- sexuality, language, violence and so on -- is suitable for certain ages in audiences.

The result has been a system that allows people their right to express ideas they want to express, while at the same time protecting audiences who might not want to hear those ideas, he said.

Valenti said he thought the current controversy over governmental fines for radio stations airing programs by the likes of Howard Stern and others would "work out" in the end.

"It does bother me, but I believe in the end this will work out," Valenti said.


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