FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein is on a roll. He took on propaganda and sponsorship issues over the weekend, and now he’s pushing an agenda to protect children. He said that “many parents feel like they are losing control, and they’re frustrated by a seemingly relentless march of coarse material that is too violent, too sexual, too unhealthy or too commercial for their children.”
It revolves around promoting V-Chip literacy and enhancing the TV ratings system, among other things. Adelstein’s proposal starts with a look at blocking technology, including possible improvements and promotion of parental use; the update, clarification and promotion of ratings and content labels; extending ratings to promotional and commercial material; encouragement of third-party ratings systems; requiring clear sponsorship identification for embedded advertising in children’s programming; and tightening the rules for internet advertising.
RBR/TVBR observation: The rules on children’s advertising already on the books are strictly enforced by the FCC, and it is seemingly very easy get flagged for a violation. Ads are limited to 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour on weekdays, and the FCC notices if you go over by as little as 15 second. And if you should be unfortunate enough to run a commercial featuring a character on the program being run, that turns the program into a wall-to-wall commercial in the eyes of the law, regardless how entertaining or educational it may otherwise be.
That said, we are completely in favor of the best blocking technology and the best ratings systems possible. Giving parents the ability to effectively keep their children away from whatever they deem to be objectionable will make it that much harder for regulators, legislators and the courts to attack the First Amendment rights of broadcasters.