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Where There Isn't Smoke... - Broadcasting & Cable

Where There Isn't Smoke...

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Disney is hanging a "no smoking" sign, or close to it, on its Disney-branded movies, as opposed to the Touchstone or Miramax fare that is targeted more to adults.

On initial inspection, that sounds like a responsible move, and unprompted by big-footed government types might well be just that.

But coming so soon after a powerful congresional committee held a hearing on media images and kids where its chairman asked studios to do what Disney just did, which includes putting aanti-smoking PSAs in DVD’s of its films that do include smoking, it seems to much like a "this high" response to the Hill’s command to "jump."

Particularly since the announcement came in a letter to House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who had held the hearing and asked for industry action.

To me this is the flip side of the Office of National Drug Control Policy pushing the media to work anti-drug messages into its programming, which I have major problems with as well.

I think programming should remain the province of programmers, not politicians.

Does this decision mean no Disney film can have a wizened old man taking a drag on a coffin nail and then wheezing and coughing uncontrollably, which might do more than a wheelbarrelful of PSA’s to discrourage little ones from picking up the habit.

I would feel a little better, but not much, if Disney, in this case President Bob Iger, had said the company would try not to glamorize smoking in its movies, though who decides what that means?

At least Iger said in his letter that this did not apply to other content calls Washington would like to make.

By John Eggerton

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