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Remarks at the Closing of Session II of the Family Re-Union IV Conference in Nashville

July 10, 1995

I just want to say one thing, if I might. Let me, first of all, start by saying thank you to all of you for being here and for caring enough about this subject to be here and for giving us a chance to discuss this issue in a nonpolitical atmosphere of good citizenship. I thank you for that. I also thank you for what you've done.

But I'd like to comment if I could on what's been said and what has not been said and end with something Mr. Selleck said. First of all, we know that we need to support and get more of the kind of programming reflected on the Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, "Christy," the Fox Children's Network, and public television, and whoever I left out. We know that, we know we need that.

Secondly, we know we need some guideposts to the future which might be what John Cook talked about or another kind of rating system. And at least some of us would like to see some parents be able to turn some things off now and again, which is why we like the V channel.

Then you get to the next level, which is what the gentleman from the Ad Council talked about. And I agree with—we've got to make sure that no matter how far we go with technology, we save some private space along the way. Then you get to the question of whether we could systematically move the market system a little bit, to take off on Gary's comment.

His is a significant commitment, the Ad Council has made, for two reasons. One is, $8 billion over 8 years is $800 million a year. I'll tell you how much that is; I just sat there and figured it out. In the Presidential elections we spend about $100 million in the general election, telling you how great we are, how terrible our opponents are, and you see a lot of our ads. So if you spend $800 million a year and you do it right, you can make an impact. That's not an insignificant thing, and it should be lauded.

But the other suggestion you made, coming back to what Mr. Selleck said, is that the people who do all this should not be defensive; they should be open. They should realize there are no simple answers. A few years ago, there was an attempt to do what Oprah Winfrey's doing on her own on a systematic basis through all different kinds of television shows through education. I saw you out there, John. Do you remember when I came out there to Hollywood and they had me give a little speech, because there was an organized effort to try to say, let's take a year and put some positive message about education in all of our programs, our cops and robbers programs, our cowboy programs, our—everything. In this case, it would be the Internet and all that.

And they did it for a year. I don't know that we had any way of measuring what the results were, but I do know what the gentleman from the Ad Council said makes a lot of sense. What I hope will happen is, in the end, that there will be some systematic effort which will not only have more good programs like "Christy" on the air, but which will make everybody think before they put their police show on the air or their you-name-it, whatever show it is: What picture of women am I presenting to America; what message am I sending to these kids about violence; what am I doing?

In other words, if we're going to change the American culture, we have to somehow change the media culture. And we have to do it without finger pointing, but we've got to be honest about it.

I think this Ad Council commitment is a good one, but I think what we need to do—and maybe Gary's right, maybe you have to change the people running the show a little bit—but we need a systematic debate there about what we don't do and what we do do in our regular programming. I really think that's important. I think if we leave that out, we'll leave a big piece of this undone. And I thank you for being willing to deal with that.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:15 p.m. in Polk Theater at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. In his remarks, he referred to actor Tom Selleck; John Cook, executive vice president of corporate Winfrey, television talk show host. A tape was not affairs, Walt Disney Co.; Gary David Goldberg, available for verification of the content of these television writer and producer; and Oprah remarks.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the Closing of Session II of the Family Re-Union IV Conference in Nashville Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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