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Press Release

February 21, 2007

PTC and CCFC to Denver RTD: Stop Advertising M-Rated Video Games

Publicly owned buses and trains promote violence to young riders


DENVER (February 21, 2007) – The Parents Television Council™ and the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood, on behalf of a coalition of parents, child advocacy groups, pediatricians and mental health researchers, have called on the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to stop advertising video games rated "Mature" or "Adults Only."  Last fall, ads for the notoriously violent M-rated Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (Rockstar Games, 2006) were featured on RTD trains.  The organizations asked the RTD to amend their advertising policy at the RTD monthly board meeting on February 20, 2007.


Despite their M and AO ratings and the fact that they feature graphic violence—including violence against women, and explicit sexual content, the Grand Theft Auto series is frequently marketed in venues frequented by children.  The Grand Theft Auto series has proven to be extremely popular with young people.  In 2002, the top selling video game for teens and preteens was Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, in which players could kill a prostitute after having sex with her.


"Our public transportation network serves more than half the residents of Colorado and is doing them a disservice with its tacit approval for the dangerous content in the Mature-rated video games that are advertised throughout the system.  I'm here today to remind Chairman Chris Martinez and the board that they have a responsibility to act in the best interest of those who voted you into these important positions.  You can take a step towards being a better steward of the public good today by no longer accepting advertising from violent video games that can have long-term harmful effects on the youth in our community," said PTC™ Denver Chapter Director George Robison to attendees at the meeting.


Robison and CCFC member Peter Simonson presented board members with a letter urging the RTD to change its advertising policy to preclude accepting ads for games rated as unsuitable for children under 17.  In November, CCFC led a successful campaign to get the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to make this change.  The complete text of the letter can be found here.


"It is unconscionable that RTD would accept advertisements for a game like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories," said Simonson.  "In Vice City Stories, players are rewarded for killing innocent bystanders, law enforcement officers and rival gang members, as they attempt to set up illicit businesses, such as drug dealing and prostitution rings, and commit armed robbery.  As a father and a Denver-area resident, I want to know that my children can ride public trains and buses without being subjected to ads that promote violence and lawlessness."


The letter was written and organized by the PTC and CCFC and endorsed by researchers, clergy, and child advocacy groups.  Individual signatories included Executive Director, Denver Police Foundation and Former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, Former Colorado U.S. Attorney Mike Norton, Craig A. Anderson, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Iowa State University; William R. Beardslee, MD, Gardner/Monks Professor of Child Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Joanne Cantor, PhD, Director, Center for Communication Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Alvin F. Poussaint, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Rabbi Michael Lerner, Chair, Network of Spiritual Progressives. Organizational endorsers included: the National Institute on Media and the Family; Stand for Children; Dads and Daughters, and the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ.


According to PTC President Tim Winter, "Countless research studies demonstrate the unequivocal effect of media violence on a child's brain and cognitive development.  It is the height of irresponsibility for the RTD to be accepting money to promote violent video games to the many children who use their services."


"Advocates for children from across the political spectrum are united in their belief that children should not be targets for advertising that glorifies violence," said CCFC co-founder, Dr. Susan Linn.  "This letter reflects that diversity.  We hope that Denver will join the growing number of communities declaring that public property cannot be used to promote violence to children."


To schedule an interview with a PTC representative, please contact Kelly Oliver (ext. 140) or Megan Franko (ext. 148) at (703) 683-5004.


To schedule an interview with a CCFC representative, please contact

Josh Golin at (617) 278-4172.


The Parents Television Council™ (www.parentstv.org®) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. This national grassroots organization has more than 1.3 million members across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. The PTC also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.




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