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  Jan 18, 1999

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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Trustees want WWF unplugged during prime time

WINNIPEG (CP) -- City school trustees have a fight on their hands -- with the World Wrestling Federation and TSN.

Winnipeg's public school board complained earlier this month about the "violent and sexually driven" shows such as the federation's Raw is War.

They asked local cable companies not to broadcast the programs during prime time or weekend afternoons, when school children are more likely to watch the antics of professional wrestlers.

"I have had at least 60 calls personally saying 'Bravo, thank you for raising this issue,'" said Lori Johnson, the board's chairwoman.

The issue arose after teachers noticed children mimicking sexual gestures and phrases made popular by pro wrestlers, said Don Teel, president of the Winnipeg Teachers Association.

"It's the sort of language and the sort of gestures that aren't acceptable in a public school situation and I dare say would be unacceptable in most Winnipeg homes," said Teel.

"We're not trying to bash pro wrestling as an industry but we have concerns about the latest tactics used to shock people and attract viewers."

But Jim Byrne, the federation's vice-president of marketing, said the American company's "edgy" programming mirrors the outside world.

"There's nothing going on in the ring or outside of the ring that doesn't go on in the real world. We are merely reflecting the time," Byrne said.

However, one of the federation's personalities said the show might be too provocative for younger children.

Don Callis, a Winnipeg-based manager known as The Jackyl, said parents must take responsibility for monitoring the television.

"Too many parents use the TV as a babysitter," Callis said.

"They're soaking up the garbage that is on TV . . . I would say some of the wrestling material on TV is questionable."

Cable providers are forwarding the complaints to The Sports Network because broadcast regulations prevent them for altering network feeds, said Sherry Curnew, a spokeswoman for the cable company Videon.

About 500,000 Canadians tune into the Raw is War show on Monday nights, said TSN spokesman David Rosenbloom.

The shows are edited to comply with guidelines established by the Canadian Association of Broadcasting Standards and TSN's internal policies, Rosenbloom said.

"We feel we've been very responsible in the way we broadcast the program."

-- (Winnipeg Sun)