Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Violence is up according to a Parents' Television Council study...
"The medical community agrees that exposure to violence is irreparably harmful to kids," declares PTC President, Tim Winter.
In spite of the fact the industry has been policing the Television airwaves by virtue of a ratings system, Mr. Winter claims that the actual V-Chip, as he calls it, is failing.
The Federal Communications Commission may crack down.
On the House side, a Telecommunications subcommittee previously scheduled a full hearing on the issues to review images kids are prone to catch on the small screen, in addition to programs featuring violence, and depictions of smoking.
Senator Jay Rockefeller noted,
"The industry will not stop showing violent content because it is so cheap to produce and incredibly profitable. To be blunt, the big media companies have placed a greater emphasis on their corporate short term profits than on long term health and well being of our children," Rockefeller said.
"I reject the notion that television merely reflects our society. I believe that television can and should be a positive force."
"For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we have a moral obligation to tackle television violence and arm our parents with the tools to make their children safer," Rockefeller said, "Doing nothing is not an option."
The Senator is likely to introduce his long-awaited bill giving the FCC the authority to regulate TV violence, though its prospects would not appear to be great given the difficulty in defining TV violence and a Federal Court's recent decision calling into question the FCC's enforcement of indecency policies.
The FCC's profanity rulings against Fox have been thrown out and its "fleeting expletives" policy as currently defended found to be "arbitrary and capricious" by a federal court.
The court said the FCC's "fleeting expletives" policy did not pass muster because the commission had failed to "articulate a reasoned bias for its change in policy."
"We are very pleased with the court's decision and continue to believe that government regulation of content serves no purpose other than to chill artistic expression in violation of the First Amendment," said Fox in a statement.
"Viewers should be allowed to determine for themselves and their families, through the many parental control technologies available, what is appropriate viewing for their home."
The commission can now appeal the the decision to the full court - it was heard by a three-judge panel - appeal it directly to the Supreme Court, or take another pass at trying to justify the policy.
While the court did not take up the constitutional issues as part of its decision, it spent several pages ruminating on how difficult it would be for the FCC to make its policy pass the First Amendment smell test.
In effect, the court made the decision narrow, but its opinion on the issue was broad.
For example, it cited Supreme Court precedent that broadcast media content regulation is subject to less judicial scrutiny than cable or satellite because of its uniquely pervasive character, an argument the networks said has outlived the reality of a crowded media marketplace.
The court said in the face of that precedent it could not change that policy.
"Nevertheless," it added, "we would be remiss not to observe that it is increasingly difficult to describe the broadcast media as uniquely pervasive and uniquely accessible to children, and at some point in the future, strict scrutiny may properly apply in the context of regulating broadcast television."