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Parents’ Groups Claim Partial Victory in Labeling Racy Records

December 10, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Two parents’ groups that got 20 record companies to agree to label music albums containing references to sex, violence or drugs said Wednesday they are encouraged by the results a year later - even though few companies followed the guidelines.

The presidents of the Parents’ Music Resource Center and the National PTA said their efforts have produced an awareness among parents about the lyrics of songs their children listen to and have calmed the censorship and sales- loss fears of record companies.

″Parents have learned that they can have some sense of control over what goes into their children’s heads without at all jeopardizing the free flow of creative material that we all want to see continue,″ Ann Kahn, National PTA president, told a news conference.

″The industry, we hope, has learned that this is not a disaster in terms of their business and that they will thrive but they must, in this as in all other efforts, be responsive to the consuming public,″ she said.

The groups released a report outlining the results of the voluntary record labeling agreement reached last November with the Recording Industry Association of America.

The agreement called for companies represented by the association to either label albums with explicit lyrics ″Explicit Lyrics - Parental Advisory″ or print the lyrics on the album cover. Monitoring began early this year.

The report, surveying primarily rock music recordings released between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1, found 28 releases with explicit lyrics - 15 of which did not carry warning labels or printed lyrics.

Of the 13 that did carry labels or printed lyrics, only two of the albums followed the guidelines in the agreement - both by printing lyrics on the album cover. The remaining 11 contained labels that were worded incorrectly, easily removed, hard to find or too small to read.

Ms. Kahn and Sally Nevius, president of Parents’ Music Resource Center, said they assume that in most cases, the record companies were attempting to comply with the agreement but were unaware of its precise requirements.

The women also said many record companies apparently were not aware that the option of printing lyrics on the album cover was in the agreement, and they said that choice seems preferable to many record companies.

The report also noted that some companies have mocked the warning label in promotional advertising and on the albums themselves. One album cited was labeled, ″Unanimously uncensored and disapproved of by parents everywhere.″ Other examples were labels printed in letters only one-sixteenth of an inch high.

Tania Blackwood, a spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America, said the group’s officials were still reviewing the report and had no comment.

Ms. Kahn and Ms. Nevius said their groups would work to establish uniform guidelines to cover the entire industry.

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