FCC looks into content control technologies

The FCC issued a notice of inquiry on content control technologies, asking what authority it has over various media and whether legislation might be necessary to give it more.

Titled “Empowering Parents and Protecting Children in an Evolving Media Landscape,” the inquiry includes a litany of potential risks the commission believes is due to the consumption of media. It includes questions the FCC still wants answered in dealing with broadcast, cable and the Internet.

“Through this NOI, we seek information on the extent to which children are using electronic media today, the benefits and risks these technologies bring for children, and the ways in which parents, teachers, and children can help reap the benefits while minimizing the risks,” the FCC said in a statement.

The commission is seeking information on media literacy, government coordination of efforts and its legal authority to regulate. “We ask commenters, in proposing any action, to discuss the source and extent of the commission's authority to take the action," the commission said. “In addition, as discussed above, commenters should discuss the compatibility of any proposed action with the First Amendment.”

The FCC plans to use the information gathered in the inquiry in a review of its children's TV regulations. Chairman Julius Genachowski said new technology has “significantly increased the availability of inappropriate content and elevated parents’ concerns.” He also said that broadcasting remains a “unique medium” and the exclusive source of video for millions of people.

But he continued to emphasize parental control, education and industry solutions. “The vital role of government in this media environment is therefore to empower parents and protect children, while honoring and abiding by the First Amendment,” he said.