ROME (AP) _ Pressed by child advocacy groups, Italian television networks have promised to keep excessively violent television shows or those that contain ``psychologically disturbing'' scenes off the air for most of the day.

The agreement signed Wednesday by the state and private television networks puts Italy in line with Britain and other European countries, where industry regulators monitor complaints about violent smut broadcast in the daytime.

Interviewing or broadcasting images of children involved in crimes _ whether they are the instigators, witnesses or victims _ will also be barred in Italy.

Parent associations in Italy have been pushing for a reduction in children's exposure to violent shows which they blame for negatively influencing children's behavior.

One association has set up a fax number where citizens can file reports on shows they feel exceeded the violence limit.

The government pushed for the self-regulation policy, but doesn't intend to make it a law, said Mario Avagliani, a spokesman for Premier Romano Prodi.

Shows or commercials that portray handicapped children as a way of publicizing medical treatment will also be forbidden, as would shows with many scenes of family fighting.

The networks said such shows will not be broadcast from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Television stations will also keep from broadcasting advertisements for alcohol, contraceptives or sex services during the afternoon and prime time.

Each network agreed to create an internal committee to view movies before they are aired to weed out those deemed too violent.

A committee with representatives from all the networks will act as a watchdog to insure the new rules are followed. Violators will have to broadcast an apology during prime time.