On Thursday, the FCC issued its Report on violent programming on television, finding that such programming has a negative impact on the well being of children, and suggesting that Congressional action to restrict and regulate such programming would be appropriate. A summary of the findings of the Commission can be found in our firm’s bulletin on the Report, here. As we point out in our bulletin, the Commission did not adopt this report with a united voice, as both Commissioner Adelstein and McDowell expressed concerns about the thoroughness of the report, the practicality and constitutionality of drawing lines between permitted and prohibited violence in programming, and even whether the government is the proper forum for restricting access to such programming or whether this isn’t fundamentally an issue of family and parental control.
The Report suggests that legislative action to restrict violent programming or to channel it to certain time periods might be appropriate as parents are often not home when children watch television, and technological controls, like the V-Chip, are ineffective as parents don’t know that they exist or, if they are aware of the existence of the controls, they don’t know how to activate them. The Commission also suggests that the ratings given to programs are not always accurate. An interesting alternate take can be found in an article in Slate, here, citing a study not mentioned by the FCC finding that parents, even when carefully educated about the V-Chip and its uses, do not use it. This seems to indicate that parents are not as concerned about the issue as is the FCC, and suggests that the real motivation is not restricting what is presented to children, but instead what is available to adults.