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After watching an episode of MTV’s “Jackass” in which the lead characterlay down on a giant grill and had others set him on fire, 13-year-oldJason Lind and his friend tried to re-create the stunt. The Connecticut boysuffered third-degree burns over his hands and legs after his friendreportedly poured gasoline on Jason’s feet and lit him on fire. Whatever the likelihood of success in a lawsuit against MTV, it is wise for MTV or any programmer to post warnings when a program contains violent acts that could be imitated. Programmers should consider the frequency, time and scope of the warnings. For programs of this kind, the following language would be typical: WARNING: The acts you will see on this program contain violent acts that cause injury. Do not try these yourself! The acts portrayed are undertaken by trained experts wearing protective clothing. [For a younger audience, the following could be added: "Be cool, but don't be stupid -- have a good time watching us, but never, never try this yourself."] The following is a checklist of other factors to make sure the warning is seen and understood: � The warning should be conspicuous — taking maximum screen space with color schemes to enhance the readability of the terms. � The warning should be read as voice-over narration at the same time the text appears. That way, if a viewer did not see the warning, he or she heard it. � The warning should last five seconds. � It should be repeated at key points during the broadcast, not just at the beginning (which could be missed by viewers tuning in late) or at the end (after some viewers have already turned off the television or changed channels). Mark Conrad is the editor-in-chief of Broadcast Law Report and associate professor of legal and ethical studies at Fordham University’s Schools of Business Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

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