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Remarks of
FCC Commissioner Susan Ness
Upon Receiving an Award from the
International Radio and Television Society Foundation
New York City

May 4, 1999

Thank you so much, Gerry, for that extraordinary introduction.

There is simply more oxygen in the room when you are around. You have been a mentor and friend for so many of us.

I am deeply grateful to the IRTS for this very special award. I am sure Charles Osgood, Katie Couric and Les Moonves are as honored as I am to be recognized today for the work we do.

Katie and Charles add class to the airways every time they are on camera and Les adds class behind the scenes.

They represent the very best values using this powerful medium to do good.

* * * * *

An old proverb says: "You cannot step twice into the same river, for the waters are continually flowing on."

The river of change that surges through our economic and social lives today is a torrent -- with wild rapids and dangerous undertows.

That river of change is challenging and transforming electronic media.

As has been noted in recent days, the images of violence have become the focus of nationwide attention and debate.

The Littleton massacre has led many to raise serious questions about the role of media, electronic games, and the internet in portraying violence in ways that desensitize our children -- and perhaps contribute to such violence.

We see the tragedy of Columbine High and ask ourselves: How can we provide a safe and sane environment for our children? How can we deal with the pervasive, gratuitous violence?

Sacrificing our beloved First Amendment is not the answer.

Rather, as parents, each of us must assume personal responsibility in helping our children make choices about the programs and movies they watch and the games they play.

And program creators, broadcasters, cable operators, and corporate leaders must assume personal responsibility -- as members of a national community -- and take the interests of that community to heart.

If everyone involved in the programming food chain were to ask: "Is this a program that I would want my children to watch? -- Would I give it my personal "seal of approval?" -- And then acted based upon the answers to those questions, we likely would see meaningful changes.

With the right tools, information, and feedback, parents and industry can work together to make a difference.

Each of us has a responsibility to participate in building a stronger community, it is an honor to be working with you to do so.

Thank you again.