Tuesday next, 6/26/07 at 10AM, is now on the schedule of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. And the topic is bound to bring out the finest oratory the assembled senators can muster: "Impact of Media Violence on Children." We expect to hear some of the details of the upcoming bill from Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).
The FCC issued a hurried report earlier this past spring on the topic, suggesting that Congress was well within its rights to come up with some kind of legislation restricting violent content on the nation's airwaves. The FCC noted that any such legislation would have to be narrowly tailored to get around First Amendment concerns, and was conspicuously short of details as to just how that task was to be accomplished. Rockefeller has taken the anti-violent mantle from retired Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-SC), who tried for years to push bills through Congress to no avail. According to reports, one of the options favored by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a la carte cable channel menus, will not be part of Rockefeller's bill.
SmartMedia observation: We fully expect that anything Rockefeller comes up with will follow the Hollings efforts onto the legislative slag heap. The hearing should provide plenty of entertainment – senators and witnesses will be able to indulge in lurid descriptions of all types of mayhem – but they will not have any credible evidence linking broadcast violence directly to real violence, and lacking that, the Constitution will easily prevail over this misguided effort at playing national nanny.