April 26, 2007

Scenes From My Old Stomping Grounds

Regular readers will know that I practiced FCC law for a long time. Thus, I found this story to be professionally interesting:

FCC Moves To Restrict TV Violence

WASHINGTON, April 25 — Concerned about an increase in violence on television, the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday urged lawmakers to consider regulations that would restrict violent programs to late evening, when most children would not be watching.

The commission, in a long-awaited report, concluded that the program ratings system and technology intended to help parents block offensive programs — like the V-chip — had failed to protect children from being regularly exposed to violence.

As a result, the commission recommended that Congress move to limit violence on entertainment programs by giving the agency the authority to define such content and restrict it to late evening television.

It also suggested that Congress adopt legislation that would give consumers the option to buy cable channels “à la carte” — individually or in smaller bundles — so that they would be able to reject channels they did not want.

“Clearly, steps should be taken to protect children from excessively violent programming,” said Kevin J. Martin, the agency’s chairman and a longtime proponent of à la carte programming. “Some might say such action is long overdue. Parents need more tools to protect children from excessively violent programming.”

Mr. Martin, the only tool parents really need already comes attached to their tee vees. It's called an off-switch.

You know it's a chilly day in hell indeed when I side with the ACLU on something. But my position isn't really a First Amendment one, it's more an effectiveness one. All the bells and whistles in the world (and the "V-chip" is a perfect example) don't make a single damn bit of difference unless the parents are engaged. And parodoxically, if they are engaged then they don't need all those bells and whistles.

UPDATE: I'm not saying there isn't a F.A. argument here, btw, just emphasing the non-juridical side of the matter. That presupposes that the guv'mint either can't or shouldn't be taking matters into its hands.

Posted by Robert at April 26, 2007 07:45 AM | TrackBack

I like the a la carte idea. But moving all the good programs later, that cuts into my bedtime, darnit. I want the gummint out of my TV, so I can have total control of the remote.

Posted by: Haz-been at April 26, 2007 12:13 PM