Senate Commerce Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has made video content part of the overall discussion in the wake of the latest mass-shooting tragedy. If there is good news for broadcasters, it is that his focus is very much on violent video games, not television program content – but that too will be part of the mix.
Rockefeller was very specific in separating program content from video game content, specifically criticizing those say violent video games are no more damaging than Saturday morning cartoons.
“Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it,” said Rockefeller. “They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons. Parents, pediatricians, and psychologists know better. These court decisions show we need to do more and explore ways Congress can lay additional groundwork on this issue. This report will be a critical resource in this process. I call on my colleagues to join to me in passing this important legislation quickly.”
The bill would direct the National Academy of Sciences to study the harmful effects of violent video games and video content on children; would direct the FTC to delve at length into video game ratings; and would put the FCC to work looking at violent programming.
The National Academy of Sciences is a Washington DC-based non-profit entity which relies on pro bono expert volunteers to provide advice on matters of science, engineering and medicine.
“Major corporations, including the video game industry, make billions on marketing and selling violent content to children,” Rockefeller concluded. “They have a responsibility to protect our children. If they do not, you can count on the Congress to take a more aggressive role.”
RBR-TVBR observation: We have no objection to Rockefeller’s look at the media. We will simply caution against any attempt to make too much of it. It is easy to point to media and blame it for anything – materialism, stereotyping, disinterest in school, obesity, violence, you name it. The problem with this is that in many cases the media is merely reflecting conditions, not causing them.
In any case, most of society’s problems have clear non-media roots. Focusing on the media can be a convenient way to avoid taking a hard look at factors that are much more difficult to address.
Let us just say this: We have our opinions on some things that should be done in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, and we’re sure you do as well. We do not intend to hold a debate on that here.
We will only say that trying to pin the blame on television content is not high on our own list of priorities.