Monday, May 14, 2007 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

new PFF report & event on regulating TV violence

Legislation is expected to be introduced in Congress very soon that would regulate television programming deemed to be “excessively violent.” This follows the release of the FCC's recent report calling on Congress to act and to give the agency the power to regulate such programming on broadcast television and potentially even cable and satellite TV.

In response to these proposals, I wanted to draw your attention to an event that I will be hosting this week as well as a new study (and a few old ones) that PFF has published on this issue:

(1) EVENT THIS FRIDAY: PFF will be hosting a congressional seminar this Friday, May 18 from Noon-1:30 on “The Complexities of Regulating TV Violence.” The event will take place in Rayburn House Office Building , Room B354. Panelists will include:

* Henry Geller, Former General Counsel, Federal Communications Commission
* Robin Bronk, Executive Director, The Creative Coalition
* Robert Corn-Revere, Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
* Jonathan L. Freedman, Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto and Author, Media Violence and its Effect on Aggression

If you are interested in attending this free seminar, please RSVP here:

(2) NEW STUDY: PFF has just released a new study, “The Right Way to Regulate Violent TV,” which outlines the many ways parents have to deal with potentially objectionable media content, including violent programming. The 23-page study highlights the many technical and non-technical parental control tools and methods that families can use to tailor video programming to their own needs and values. In the report, I argue that:

The combination of the V-Chip, set-top box parental controls, various ratings systems, and other screening tools (personal video recorders in particular) mean that parents now have multiple layers of technological protection at their disposal. And the industry-led educational efforts highlighted above prove that, contrary to what some critics claim, media operators are taking steps to help parents make content determinations and better control child access to unwanted media. Critics can always argue that media and communications companies should “do more” to address the concerns parents have, but it’s important to realize that they are already doing quite a bit.

More importantly, almost all parents enforce a variety of household media rules and have guidelines for acceptable media consumption. These informal rules and strategies are an essential part of the parental controls story, but they are almost completely overlooked in public policy debates about these issues.

Of course, whether or not parents are taking advantage of any of these tools or options is another matter entirely. But if, for whatever reason, some parents are not taking advantage of these tools and options, their inaction should not be used to justify government regulation of programming as a surrogate for household/parental choice. Parents have been empowered. It is now their responsibility to take advantage of the parental control tools and methods at their disposal to determine what is acceptable for their families.

In conclusion, it is important to realize that not only are markets bringing parents empowering tools to restrict or tailor media content in their homes, but this is being done much more quickly, much more closely tailored to the parents’ own desires, and without concerns about censorship such as is associated with traditional government regulatory efforts. That is why private parental control efforts represent a superior approach to regulating violent television programming.

(3) PREVIOUS STUDIES / ARTICLES: You might also be interested in some of these previous PFF publications on this topic:

* "Thinking Seriously about Cable & Satellite Censorship: An Informal Analysis of S-616, The Rockefeller-Hutchison Bill," by Adam D. Thierer, PFF Progress on Point 12.6, April 2005.

* "Can Broadcast Indecency Regulations Be Extended to Cable Television and Satellite Radio?" by Robert Corn-Revere, PFF Progress on Point 12.8, May 2005.

* "Moral and Philosophical Aspects of the Debate over A La Carte Regulation," by Adam Thierer, PFF Progress Snapshot 1.23, December 2005.

* “Should We Regulate Violent TV?” an editorial for the City Journal by Adam Thierer, April 30, 2007.

* "New Worlds to Censor," a Washington Post editorial by Adam Thierer, June 7, 2005.

* “FCC Violence Report Concludes That Parenting Doesn’t Work,” a PFF Blog by Adam Thierer, April 26, 2007.

posted by Adam Thierer @ 8:47 PM | Free Speech