(RNS) Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and 28 other members of Congress have sent letters to the executives of the major television networks to ask them to reinstate the "Family Hour" in evening television programming.

Referring to a recent report that labeled the shows airing between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. "The Sour Family Hour," the congressional group wrote the letter with hopes that entertainment executives would take action to reduce sex and violence in those programs. "We urge you to return to the policy of setting aside an hour for programming that is suitable for the entire family," they wrote in a letter to Sandy Grushow, chairman of Fox Television Entertainment Group. "Allowing one hour every evening -- historically between 8 and 9 p.m.--for family-friendly programming enables families to spend quality time together enjoying entertainment that will neither embarrass parents nor confuse or disturb children."

A spokesman for Fox confirmed that the letter had been received but could not say how the network would respond. "We appreciate the members of Congress taking the time to write," the spokesman said. "We will certainly take a look at it."

The letter, which also was sent to executives of ABC, CBS, NBC and WB, was signed by 25 Republicans, three Democrats and one Independent. The signatories said they would prefer to see a change in programming that was done voluntarily rather than legislatively. "Safeguarding the `Family Hour' through legislation is not our first choice; rather, we appeal to you, and to your shareholders to self-regulate and help the millions of parents who are trying to instill core moral values to their children," they wrote.

The Parents Television Council released a report in August that stated that family-hour TV shows had grown raunchier between the 2000-01 television season and the 1998-99 season.

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