In several recent speeches and press releases, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein has challenged the FCC to do more in the regulation of children’s programming. In a recent Press Release, the Commissioner outlined proposals including the following:
- Improve the V-Chip and other program blocking technologies
- Improve ratings information for television programming – including potentially having third parties review programming for its suitability to children as opposed to the television programmers themselves doing the ratings
- In the context of a proceeding on Embedded Advertising that has been rumored for quite some time, look at how such advertising is used in children’s programming
- Restrict interactive advertising directed at children.
- Convene a summit to explore these issues
In addition to these proposal, the Commissioner gave a recent speech to the Media Institute in which he expanded on these ideas, and also lengthened this agenda to include further Commission action to define and restrict violent programming. He also expressed his regrets over the recent decision overturning the FCC’s fines for fleeting expletives and urged that action be taken to overturn this decision (see our post here on the FCC’s appeal of that decision). And in yet another recent speech, he emphasized the proceeding on Interactive advertising in children’s programming, remarking on how the Commission has a pending proceeding that has been pending and unresolved for several years. He cited the Commission’s tentative conclusion to ban such ads, as broadcasters form a "portal" for children’s entrance to the Internet. While the Commissioner expressed that the FCC had little jurisdiction to do much on the Internet itself (but see our recent post as asking whether the FCC may soon get more power over the Internet), he felt that restrictions on the links to the Internet from television programs would be useful in protecting children.
One interesting note is that, in his most recent speech, the Commissioner makes clear that the long-rumored proceeding on embedded advertising has enough votes to be issued, but it is being held up for various unspecified reasons. Presumably, this proceeding will look at issues including product placement and other instances where consideration is given to a programmer for the mention or inclusion of a product. Look for that proceeding to be out soon.