By Norman Solomon

As politicians and network TV execs continue their rhetorical brawl for the moralistic high ground, one thing is certain about the new rating system that begins in January: It won't be very informative.

We're told that sex, violence and profanity are the big problems with the shows that reach millions of viewers every day and night. But truth in labeling would require much clearer descriptions of what pours out of the tube into America's homes.

From network suites to Capitol Hill to the White House, movers and shakers have been arguing for various types of TV ratings. But highly significant categories always seem to go unmentioned. For instance:

Labeling TV programs won't change them. But the labels themselves convey certain attitudes about content -- what matters and what doesn't. Right now, the shallowness of the labeling on the national agenda speaks volumes about what gets accepted without a second glance.

The above article is this week's "Media Beat" syndicated column by Norman Solomon. "Media Beat" appears in about 20 daily newspapers around the country and on CompuServe.

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