Music Biz Under Fire Yet Again

Doesn't William Bennett have anything better to do?

The music industry is under attack again this week. The first volley came from

an old friend of the music and obscenity debate, Jack Thompson, the gentleman

who managed to get a 2 Live Crew album declared obscene by a Florida judge in

1988. Thompson is urging the U.S. Army to stop advertising on MTV, because he

claims the video station shows "some of the most disturbing, graphic

pornography depicting women as mere sexual objects," according to Daily

Variety.

Thompson reportedly wrote in a letter faxed to Secretary of

Defense William Cohen that "the link between pornography and sexual abuse is

irrefutable" and that the screening of Army recruitment commercials on MTV is

"highly inappropriate" at a time when the Army is reeling from a string of

recent sexual abuse allegations against senior officers and enlisted men.

Thompson took issue with what he called MTV's "objectification of women."

This is not the first time Thompson has taken on MTV. In December,

Thompson sent a letter to the lawyers for Viacom, MTV's parent company,

threatening a boycott of the station unless it "clean(s) up its broadcasts and

stop(s) mentally molesting an entire generation."

Meanwhile, conservative

Connecticut Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman, has called upon the senior

executives of the "Big Six" record companies (PolyGram NV, Bertelsmann Music

Group, EMI Music, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal and Warner) to meet with

him this Friday (February 21) to discuss the "state of the music

industry."



Lieberman, who has again teamed with Empower America chief

and former Education Secretary William Bennett, will preside over the event,

which is the first in which high-ranking label executives will meet

face-to-face with these politicians.

It is expected that Bennett, who in

the past has joined with Lieberman and National Political Congress of Black

Women member C. Delores Tucker to lead very public attacks on Interscope

Records, will again take issue with that label's gangsta rap releases,

specifically those on Death Row Records, which the trio have blasted in the

past for their "objectionable" content. Universal, which is owned by Seagram

Co. Ltd., bought a $200 million half-share in Interscope a year ago after the

Warner Music Group sold its shares due to intense pressure from Tucker and

Bennett.

One of the reasons the meeting is unusual is because it marks the

first time such high-ranking executives will participate, in place of the

lower-level label representatives who usually handle defense for the record

companies. It also marks the first time the trio have held closed-door meetings

with label executives, rather than press conferences, like the one last year in

which they accused Seagram CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. of going back on his promise

not to distribute albums by artists they deemed offensive, such as Snoop Doggy

Dogg and slain rapper Tupac Shakur.

Daily Variety also reported

that executives at the Recording Industry Assn. of America suggested Bennett's

crusade is more likely about boosting sales of his family-values oriented books

than cleaning up the "already self-policing labels."