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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.

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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

I wish to express my heartfelt thanks for the Opinion page article on TV violence. It is a story whose time has come.

The author writes: ``Why is it so hard to get television to control its love affair with violence? Because violence sells. Why does it sell? Because the public buys it. We all make violence profitable.''

This should be taken not only seriously, but also with alarm over the moral decadence taking place in our country, for which the promotion of violence on TV is directly responsible. Geraldine S. Fulenwider, Lewiston, Maine

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