NBC executives on Sunday addressed concerns about the level of televised violence in the wake of the elementary school massacre in Newton, Conn., insisting that they don't run a "shoot-'em-up" network.
"I think it weighs on all of us," NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt told reporters at the TV critics press tour. "Most of the people at this network have children and really care about the shows that we're putting out there. It's something that's always in our mind, but this just brought it to the forefront."
Television violence figures to be a running theme at the tour, especially considering that both NBC ("Hannibal") and Fox ("The Following") are preparing to air shows pegged to serial killers.
NBC entertainment chief Jennifer Salke pointed out that "Hannibal," a drama that focuses on the early days of Hannibal Lecter, is a rarity on the network.
"There are so few shows that are violent on our schedule," she said. "So we are able to look at those individual episodes strategically and ahead of time, for the most part, and really try to make the best decision for those episodes without kind of strangling creators, but being responsible and respectful."
Greenblatt, who ran Showtime when it developed the serial-killer drama "Dexter," noted that broadcast television is governed by FCC-imposed parameters, unlike cable, which is "no-holds-barred." Still, he claimed that "Criminal Minds" on CBS "is worse than 'Dexter' ever was."
Even so, Greenblatt cautioned against drawing a link between real-life violence and that on the TV screen.
"I'm not a psychologist," he said. "But I'm not sure you can make the leap that a show about serial killers has caused violence in our country. There are many other factors, including mental illness and guns."
As for the content in "Hannibal," Salke said, "It's not like a shoot-'em-up kind of show ... It's not gratuitous in the way you might be thinking."