May 1, 2007
FCC Continues the Crusade Against Violent TV Programming

One of the biggest news items for the television industry in the past week was the release of the Federal Communications Commission's report on television violence. The report, which has been in the plans for quite a while, links to a variety of respected resources which attempt to draw a link from television violence and aggressive behaviors in children.

The idea is that violent content should be restricted between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., which I am assuming is EST. Amazing, the cognitive abilities of children to handle violence changes from time zone to time zone.

The biggest problem (and, by that, I mean far from the only problem) is highlighted in a sentence from Ira Teinowitz's report on the issue: "The report, which could be released as soon as Thursday, doesn't take a position on how to define 'excessive' violence, instead leaving that difficult job to Congress."

This, of course, comes on the heels of the Virginia Tech shootings, in which many pundits were hoping beyond hope to find a way to link the killings to media violence, whether it be video games or the chance to pin it on "Friday night wrestling."

Of course, plenty of groups are already coming out in opposition of any legislative actions, attempting to counter the support such an anti-viiolence bill would have. The opposition ranges from civil libertarians opposed to any limits on free speech to those who are chiefly troubled by who gets to be the arbiter of taste.

A followup report from Teinowitz emphasizes that these regulations apply to cable and broadcast television and that the language of the report emphasizes action but leaving it up to Congress to decide what violence means. She writes, "The FCC offered a variety of possibilities for regulation, including imposing a new family hour, channeling violent content to certain times of day, imposing government-required violent content ratings and adding a la carte, family-friendly tiers on cable."

The final choice seems the least damaging to free speech, but I would suggest a better way to curtail violence among human beings would be to tackle the social issues that lead to violent actions instead of spending significant time on effort on the art and entertainment sectors as primary forces that drive people to violent actions.

The ACLU calls the report "political pandering," and of course the broadcasters are up in arms.

When I wrote about this previously, I referenced another source who calls the whole initiative "a quixotic endeavor." See that post for a variety of other comments on the FCC initiative.



Here's an idea, how about the government puts a short and to the point message that stands for 30 seconds before every violent show.

That message should read:

"If you are letting your child watch the following television program, you are a bad parent."

It bothers me that Big Brother is attempting to become Big Mother. I want to hear a politician go on record saying that the American public is incapable of proper parenting.

That is what they are saying when they talk about "regulating" violent content on TV.


Your "big brother/big mother" comparison is a key one, Dustin. Libertarian scholars and critics have often written about the right's desire to be the nation's stern father, coupled with the left's desire to be the nation's mother. Both involves government control, and that's why it doesn't feel as different in a Democrat Congress as a Republican one...Nothing breaks down quite that easily, but it does explain certain things, like how left and right agree on some censorship issues. The right is offended and wants to cleanse or purify the airwaves, while the left is worried about some poor group of society who needs or help and protection (currently children, but this group has included people in rural areas, the poor, immigrants, and women at various times).