S. 602 is on its way to President Bush, and if he signs it, the FCC will have some homework to do. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), with unanimous consent from the full Senate, will instruct the FCC to produce a study on parental tools to block objectionable content on both television and the internet. The FCC will have 27-0 days from enactment to come up with the report, which Pryor calls the first government effort in this arena since the V-Chip.
“With over 500 channels and video streaming, parents could use a little help monitoring what their kids watch when they are not in the room,” said Pryor. “Today’s technology to protect children from indecency goes above and beyond the capabilities of the V-Chip. It’s time for the FCC to take a fresh look at how the market can empower parents with more tools to choose appropriate programming for their children. This bill is a pragmatic, sensible approach where parents, kids and technology can all benefit.”
Here is the bill summary from the Senate: Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007 – Requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to initiate a notice of inquiry to consider measures to examine: (1) the existence and availability of advanced blocking technologies that are compatible with various communications devices or platforms; and (2) methods of encouraging the development, deployment, and use of such technology by parents that do not affect the packaging or pricing of a content provider’s offering. Defines "advanced blocking technologies" as technologies that can improve or enhance the ability of a parent to protect his or her child from any indecent or objectionable video or audio programming, as determined by the parent, transmitted through wire, wireless, or radio communication.
RBR/TVBR observation: This is a no-brainer. Anything which heads off the need for content regulation is a good thing (although there is always room for controversy when it comes down to specific ratings for specific programs, as our friends in the motion picture business will be happy to point out).