FCC Chairman Kevin Martin will be a panel of one when the Senate Commerce Committee sits down to discuss "The Impact of Violence on Children" tomorrow. Other witnesses will come from the watchdog, broadcast, legal, medical and academic communities. Martin is on hand since he forwarded a document to Congress earlier in the spring suggesting it was well within its rights to give the FCC tools to clamp down on broadcast violence, although the FCC study did not venture into the muddy waters of just how this can be accomplished without running afoul of the First Amendment.
Committee member Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is planning to offer legislation on the topic at some point. The second panel will include a constitutional scholar, Laurence H. Tribe, Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard Law School, who has been reported to be on retainer with the NAB to deal with this topic. Also representing the broadcast community will be Peter Liguori, President of Entertainment of Fox Broadcasting Company. Tim Winter, President of the Parents Television Council can be expected to continue pushing Martin's line. Also on hand will be University of Arizona professor Dale Kunkel and Jeff J. McIntyre, Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer, Public Policy Office, American Psychological Association.
SmartMedia observation: As we've stated many times before, if you think obscenity/indecency regulation presents a massive gray area, then you'll love violent content regulation, which only threatens to obliterate the burgeoning clouds that obscure the exact location of the indecency line. Those who think content is too violent have many options, including public shaming of the programming, boycotting the programming's sponsors, and encouraging a massive channel-turning campaign. But trying to come up with rules and regulations on this is nothing more than a windmill tilting campaign and grandstanding opportunity. In the unlikely event that anything escapes from Congress on this topic, other than voluminous quantities of hot air, it will rapidly meet its doom in the courts.