The FCC’s report mandated by the Child Safe Viewing Act, a two-years-in-the-making look at parental control technologies and other related matters, actually includes a brief section on the situation with audio content and distribution platforms, which of course primarily includes AM and FM radio.
Perhaps the good news is that the FCC opened the segment with suggesting that hardly anybody expected audio-only to be part of this proceeding. And it’s probably a good thing, since the FCC notes that, “we are unaware of any current blocking technology that would allow parents to protect their children from indecent or objectionable audio programming on terrestrial radio.”
Center for Democracy and Technology commented that there did not seem to be any great perception of inappropriate content on radio, but the National Hispanic Media Coalition countered that there is quite a bit of parental concern “about inappropriate sexual content on Spanish language radio.”
The FCC called CDT’s statement into question as well, saying that it “is inconsistent with the history of the Commission’s indecency enforcement, which has focused redominantly on broadcast radio, and the fact that the Commission continues to receive numerous radio broadcast indecency complaints.”
The FCC noted that parents who subscribe to satellite radio are able to block objectionable channels, and that music is rated for content, allowing parents to make judgements before they get to the checkout counter of places where music is sold. Music reviews for parents are also provided by Common Sense Media and Plugged In Online.
RBR/TVBR observation: There is a bit of safety tech, but it isn’t available to parents – the good old seven-second-delay dump button. We suppose that a method could be devised for parents to completely block a radio station they do not trust, but for now when it comes to parental control, radio must be considered the wild, wild west.
We do know that we aren’t seeing or hearing much about indecency content over the radio airwaves these days, although that may have something to do with the FCC keeping its powder dry while various indecency cases work their way through the courts.
However, that’s questionable too, since the FCC two battles the FCC has fought have been very narrow – the Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident and the battle over fleeting expletives.
So is radio clean or is the FCC holding off on pulling the trigger?