Adelstein Assaults TV Violence

FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein is sick and tired of all the violence on TV, and he blasted the commission for not doing enough to help parents protect their kids.

In a speech to the Media Institute in Washington Wednesday, Adelstein said the FCC failed to take some of the more basic steps to confront the problem, making no attempt to improve awareness of the V-Chip and giving only lackluster effort into a report on TV violence demanded by Congress three years ago.

Adelstein called on the commission to launch a proceeding to examine the existence and availability of advanced blocking technologies and to propose a national plan to inform U.S. households and parents about media literacy and parental controls, as proposed in a bill by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

“While the Commission has shown benign neglect of blocking technologies like the V-Chip, they can be important tools when parents choose to use them,” Adelstein said.

Among the problems: They are rarely used. Adelstein said a 2007 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 16 percent of parents say they have used the V-Chip, and while 82 percent of parents say that they have purchased a new television since Jan. 1, 2000, 57 percent are not aware that their television sets have V-Chips.

“We have limited authority to protect children in this age of convergence,” he said. “So wherever we have clear authority, we need to act.”

Adelstein complained that more than three years after the House Commerce Committee asked the FCC to study media violence and its impact on children, the FCC produced a less-than-authoritative report, Adelstein said, “that was, frankly, nonresponsive to the congressional request.”

That report, he said, should have included a good faith definition of violence that could sustain judicial scrutiny; a complete and thorough analysis of all parental control technologies; and a broad set of options, in addition to content and price regulation.

“In short, the violence report should have done what Congress asked us to do,” he said.

The report also gave up any pretense of trying to remedy V-Chip shortcomings, he said.

Pryor’s proposal , the Child Safe Viewing Act, was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee but never reached the Senate floor. It would require the FCC to file a report within 270 days on the existence and availability of advanced blocking technologies. It also asks the commission to examine methods to encourage parents to learn about and use parental control technology.