Thursday January 6 1:41 AM ET
                     Media Accused of Gun Control Bias
    WASHINGTON (AP) - The television networks are so badly slanting the
    gun control debate they have become the ``communications division of
    the anti-gun lobby,'' says the head of a conservative media watchdog
                       group that studied the issue.
    The Media Research Center, chaired by Brent Bozell, released a study
     Wednesday on two years of television news stories on gun control.
     The study analyzed the morning shows and evening newscasts between
          July 1, 1997 and June 30, 1999 on ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC.
   In many cases, the study claimed, pro-gun themes were not covered and
                  gun proponents were not given air time.
   ``There's a powerful pervasive bias in the media,'' said Oliver North,
    the former Iran-Contra figure who now hosts a political talk show on
         MSNBC and is a national board member of the National Rifle
   Association. ``This blitz of bias is having an extraordinary impact on
                     public policy and legal opinion.''
   CNN spokesman David Bittler defended its reporting saying, ``We do not
    advocate for or against any particular position and we stand behind
        the balance and fairness that goes into all our reporting.''
   Calls made to the three other networks were not immediately returned.
   The issue of guns has increasingly been in the news as the nation has
      grappled with school shootings in places like Littleton, Colo.,
                       Paducah, Ky. and Pearl, Miss.
    Bozell's group says it examined 653 morning and evening news stories
      on gun policy issues and found that stories advocating more gun
   control outnumbered stories opposing gun control 357 to 36 or a ratio
            of 10 to 1. The group said 260 stories were neutral.
   Naomi Paiss, spokeswoman for Handgun Control, said the complaints were
   unfounded. ``This is clearly the comedy press conference with which to
                         start off the new year.''