Television: Society's Smoking Gun

I am in complete accord with the assessment in the Opinion page article ``TV Violence - What We Know but Ignore,'' Sept. 7, that violence on television promotes violent behavior. Children are especially vulnerable to learning behavior through television. Unfortunately, the author is also correct that violence on television has traditionally meant increased ratings and attempts at censorship that come close to infringing on First Amendment rights.

The solution is individual choice. Consumers should have the ability, either through a chip in their television or ``a la carte'' cable television service (a system in which individuals choose which channels they will receive), to keep out of their houses those programs that they believe contain unacceptable violence, sex, or language.

But very few cable operations allow their customers to select which channels they will receive, and, because over 99 percent of cable operators in the United States are monopolies in the areas they serve, they have little incentive to respond to the public's desire for ``a la carte'' cable viewing.

Congress could best assist those who want less violence on their TV by allowing greater competition in cable television and thereby forcing the various providers to be more responsive to consumers' needs. Gary Frink, Washington President, Television Viewers of America

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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