By Hough, Troy
News Media and the Law , Vol. 24, No. 4
The Federal Trade Commission's report on marketing violent entertainment to children prompted a Senate committee to hold two hearings in one month.
Sen.John McCain (R-Ariz.) held a Commerce Committee hearing on Sept. 13 to address the findings in the report. A number of media executives testified before the committee, but their counterparts from the motion picture industry were noticeably absent.
The report focused on three areas of media: the music recording industry, the electronic gaming industry and the motion picture industry.
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) addressed the issue of rap lyrics and how they are offensive "to us." He faulted performers such as Dr. Dre, Eminem and DMX for using obscenity and requested that the music industry "ask them to stop."
"The FTC report is blaming the entertainment industry for social ills," said Dr. Robert Richards, associate dean at Penn State University. He and Dr. Clay Calvert, an assistant professor of communications and law, are monitoring attacks on rap music and whether First Amendment defenses are successful.
Dan Goldberg, president of Artemis Records, told the senators that more-concise warning labels on music are unnecessary because music is just sounds and words, not a visual expression. To emphasize his objection, Goldberg compared music to another method of expression, books, which do not have ratings.
The gaming industry received some praise from members of the committee for its ratings system, which uses age restrictions on the games and describes the contents of the game, and are intended to give parents a better understanding of what their children play. The praise, however, was short-lived, as other senators scolded the gaming industry for creating violent games.
In defense of the industry, Douglas Lowenstein, president of Interactive Digital Software Association, said the average age of game players is 28 and called on parents to pay closer attention to the ratings.
McCain expressed his disappointment about the absence of motion picture industry executives and concluded that they must be guilty of the charges reported in the FTC report. …