FCC Seeks Multiplatform Content Blockers

WASHINGTON:The Federal Communications Commission intends to open an inquiry on content-blocking technologies that work across multiple distribution platforms. The move was expected based on previous comments made by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who suggested tighter controls on cable, online and wireless devices to shield children from violence. The FCC’s intention was set forth in its report to Congress required by the Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007.

“The Child Safe Viewing Act directed the Commission to consider advanced blocking technologies that “may be appropriate across a wide variety of distribution platforms” and “may be appropriate across a wide variety of devices capable of receiving video or audio programming,” the FCC stated. “Taken as a whole, the record indicates that no single parental control technology available today works across all media platforms. Moreover, even within each media platform, these technologies vary greatly...”

The commission's inquiry will gather information on existing blocking technologies, parental awareness of them and what factors bear on that level of awareness.

“It appears that adoption of control technologies may be greater for the Internet than for broadcasting and other traditional media sources: Why is this so?” The FCC will endeavor to find out.

Genachowski said he could not “think of a more critical topic for the commission to be considering right now than how to ensure that our children are protected from inappropriate content... We recognize that technology has created profound new challenges for parents by vastly expanding the scope and quantity of media available to our children. But technology also can--and must--be part of the solution. Parents must have access to control technologies that can appropriately limit their children’s exposure to unsuitable material.”

The FCC’s report is available on the commission’s Web site.
-- Deborah D. McAdams

More from TVB on content regulation:
August 27, 2009: “Content Regulators May Cast a Wider Net”
“This extension of federal regulation to protect children is occurring at the same time that similar concerns are being expressed by state legislatures, including the adoption of a recent law in Maine that effectively prohibits direct marketing to minors.”