STATESIDE

Presidential candidate Bob Dole has long wanted to restrict the content of TV programmes. Now he has a new excuse. Senator Dole has welcomed a report from the US cable TV industry which concludes that the violence seen on US television can be "psychologically harmful". The year-long study found that 57 per cent of American programmes contain some violence, often in contexts that "desensitise the viewer". The report will be used by Dole and other right-wing Republicans to force through legislation that makes manufacturers install a "V-Chip" in all new TV sets. The chip would block programmes with violent content and has become a key election issue. President Clinton has endorsed the chip; on 29 February he will host a White House meeting of network chiefs that will also discuss a new ratings system for TV shows.

Rupert Murdoch has - surprise, surprise - chosen a prominent conservative to run his 24-hour news channel, due to have its debut in December to compete with Ted Turner's CNN. Roger Ailes comes fresh from NBC, and has been policy adviser to both Presidents Nixon and Reagan. Murdoch camp sources say the boss is determined his new service will be a counterpoint to Turner's "liberalism". Ailes was hired over the head of Fox News's boss, Joe Peyronnin, once No 2 at CBS news. Apparently, Peyronnin's vision has not been in tune with the Murdoch agenda.

OJ Simpson says the US media is making the country think he's a beast. OJ took time off from his hunt for Nicole Brown Simpson's killer last week to play a little golf - the former football star pledged to track down the "real killers" at his post-verdict press conference. As he left his golf club, Simpson was approached by reporters and he launched his attack on press values. According to OJ, the press has always misreported those bruises Nicole had after a domestic dispute between the couple in 1990. It seems she got battered as OJ tried to defend himself against her attack. Meanwhile, Simpson has been trying to sell videos of an interview he did in January answering detailed questions about his murder trial. Business has been slow.

Four decades and one year after its launch, The Village Voice, once New York's first and finest listings and culture paper, is to become a freesheet. Circulation is down to around 118,000, threatened by fresh competition from Time Out New York, which is, of course, crowing its triumph from the skyscrapers. Whether it will still be when the Voice's $1.25 (85p) cover price goes remains to be seen.

The struggling CBS network is to spend millions on its news shows. The cash will be dispensed by the new CBS News president, Andrew Heyward. CBS has lost more than 20 seasoned producers and correspondents to competitors in the past year. "I think a lot of things have gone wrong but I don't think CBS news is broken," says Heyward. Industry experts say CBS is searching the market to find the right talent for relaunching several programmes, especially the dire breakfast show. Strangely, the man Heyward has chosen to organise recruitment is Ted Sagvaglio, who until last year was the executive producer of CBS's This Morning. Industry experts expect CBS to struggle. "There's too much news and it's a part of the industry where it's getting harder to make a profit," says the media analyst John Reedy at the Wall Street broker Smith Barney.

Supermodel Elle Macpherson is close to signing a contract for a historical series that will probe the implications of "one of the world's most important inventions", according to Martin Blackman, a television producer at Blackman and Raber. Macpherson's History of Lingerie will be a 10-part series and plenty of Elle will appear in it. "There will be something for everybody," says Blackman. Perhaps the controversial Oliver Stone will direct - he and Macpherson spent time together during the recent Sundance Film Festival.

For the first time a US TV network will be allowed inside a jury room to film the traditionally secret deliberations. American television already has unparalleled access to courtrooms, but this CBS project takes intrusion to a whole new level. The project will begin with a civil trial in Maine before moving to a criminal court in Arizona. For the moment the proceedings will not be broadcast live.

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