Los Angeles--MTV is rejecting more music videos than ever because of violence and negative depictions of women, according to a network executive.
"For the first 10 years, violence wasn't an issue," says Judy McGrath, senior vice president for MTV. "But the last two years, violence has become more prevalent on music videos."
McGrath estimates that MTV now rejects about 27 percent of those videos that it would otherwise play for musical reasons, because they are considered too explicit, violent, racist or sexist.
"We try to do it without becoming censors," she says. Although unsure of the exact rejection rates from previous years, McGrath says she knows the current ones are the highest ever.
While MTV has often been under fire for violence and sexist depictions of women in music videos, McGrath says she welcomes the heightened scrutiny from TV reformers.
"I think it's great that people are looking into this," she says.
"I support the consumer having a better idea of what's going on . . . and a larger role. But I'm not sure what that role would be."
MTV emphasized its news and public affairs programming during its presentation to critics here during the fall preview tour. MTV news correspondent Tabitha Soren announced a "Free Your Mind Forum" to be held in October on MTV as part of the cable network's yearlong focus on racial, sexual and religious intolerance.
During a question-and-answer session, Soren defended herself and MTV News against charges of bias in its political coverage.
Wasn't it true that MTV favored Bill Clinton over George Bush in the presidential campaign, she was asked, because Clinton was "hip" and fit MTV's marketing goals?
"In terms of people my age and the president being hip," the 25-year-old Soren says, "I mean, the guy's favorite Beatle is Paul and he likes Michael Bolton. How hip is that?
The big news on "MTV Unplugged" -- the hit showcase that has featured such musical artists as Eric Clapton and Mariah Carey -- is that it will do a show with poets on July 28.
"MTV's Spoken Word Unplugged" will feature poets such as Maggie Estep, Henry Rollins and Reg E. Gaines in a rock-concert setting. Estep recites "The Stupid Jerk I'm Obsessed With," while Gaines does "Please Don't Take My Air Jordans" and Rollins reads "Ode to MTV Unplugged."
MTV also announced that it will be making more of its own movies, which will be shown not only on the network but in theaters.
The first film will be a full-length feature based on the award-winning animated short titled "Joe's Apartment," which first aired on MTV's "Liquid Television" last year.