A draft report being circulated at the FCC concludes that the FCC's authority to regulate offensive content on television, which is currently limited mainly to profanity, obscenity, and indecency, could be extended to regulate violent content as well.
Anyone who's read any of my previous posts on the FCC can probably figure out that I'm not a big fan of this idea. One critic hints at one of the many problems with allowing the FCC to punish networks for violence:
"Will it count on the news?" asked Jonathan Rintels, executive director of the Center for Creative Voices in Media. "Will it count on news magazines like '60 Minutes' and 'Dateline'? What about hockey games when the gloves come off and people start punching each other?"
But I would like to respond specifically to one grossly misleading statement in the article, involving Commissioner Michael Copps:
The issue is bipartisan. Martin, a Republican, gave a joint interview yesterday to the Associated Press with Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps.
"The pressure to do something on this is building right now," Copps said, noting that television violence comes up regularly during media-ownership hearings he conducts across the country. "People really feel strongly about this issue all across this land. This is not a red state or a blue state issue."
True, Copps is a Democrat. In the area of content regulation, however, he's probably the most conservative member of the Commission. As I pointed out in my note on the 2004 indecency crackdown, Copps consistently voted with the Republican commissioners on every draconian indecency fine, and dissented only where the majority didn't punish broadcasters enough. I daresay that Copps doesn't represent a bona fide liberal viewpoint on the Commission, so parading him out to show that a study calling for increased content regulation is "bipartisan" is, as I said, misleading.
And given the fact that the Parents Television Council and its spam email campaign was solely responsible for the indecency crackdown a few years ago, I have trouble believing Copps when he says "People really feel strongly about this issue all across this land."