Simmons Testifies On Rap At Senate Ratings Hearing
Def Jam founder Russell Simmons had the last word at yesterday's Senate hearing on entertainment ratings, even though he had not been invited to testify, Billboard Bulletin reports. The label founderDef Jam founder Russell Simmons had the last word at yesterday's Senate hearing on entertainment ratings, even though he had not been invited to testify, Billboard Bulletin reports. The label founder -- whose request to testify apparently was made late -- was allowed by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) to comment at the end of the hearing.
Simmons said that rap industry leaders understand parents' concerns and are "having dialogs about our responsibilities." One result: parents can use the Internet to check out lyrics. "About 70% of our lyrics are posted on [artists'] Web sites," he said. He added that he is concerned that 23 of the 27 recordings flagged in September's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report on marketing violence to children were rap albums, and asked lawmakers to meet with artists to discuss the issue.
Earlier at the hearing, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) president/CEO Hilary Rosen testified about the trade group's newly expanded stickering program. She said the industry believes that a more detailed sticker -- for example, one based on content or age -- would be impractical.
Lieberman is the principal sponsor of a bill that would allow the FTC to prosecute companies that deceptively market violent products to children. Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) questioned the constitutionality of regulating companies that produce material protected by the First Amendment.