The V-Chip Debate: Content Filtering from Television to the Internet

By Monroe E. Price | Go to book overview

Implications for Other Countries

As more and more governments privatize broadcasting operations and seek policy mechanisms that are less interventionist than traditional broadcast licensing as practiced in North America, self-regulation may seem to be a strategy that can be applied in the new broadcasting environment with lower costs than formal legislation or regulation. The first question that must be asked is whether self-regulation is an appropriate institutional and policy response in the historical, political, and social conditions of a country. Will it actually achieve stated public policy goals, or will it prove to be an inadequate response to deal with certain types of questions? Would legal and regulatory measures be more useful and effective in serving important public goals, rather than the cooperation and consensus sought through self-regulation? Or, does self-regulation actually allow legislators and regulators to escape difficult decisions to protect certain constitutional principles and basic values in the face of short-term political gain?

This case has shown that for self-regulation to be seen as legitimate and effective, there are a number of difficult consensus building processes that remain. Policymakers and the public will have to assess the extent to which a responsible industry group can be formed that can mediate among various national and international firms and professions, such as those mentioned in this account. Since self-regulation is -- more so than legislation or regulation -- essentially a historical bargain, there are no guarantees that it will be a useful guide to policy in every nation-state.

Even if self-regulation of some form is used, the state still has a number of important roles. Public bodies should support the process of self-regulation, promoting and allowing consultation with other interested parties outside the industry, and ensuring that the intellectual resources and knowledge and political and social concerns of all groups in society are called upon and considered. The state does not whither away but serves as an important referee and forum for appropriate self-regulatory practices, and in maintaining the proper parameters and directions for the framework of self-regulation.


References

American Library Association ( 1997), "In the Matter of Industry Proposal for Rating Video Programming CS Docket No. 97-55, Reply Comments of the American Library Association", (May 8).

American Civil Liberties Union ( 1997), "In the Matter of Industry Proposal for Rating Video Programming CS Docket No. 97-55, Reply Comments of the American Civil Liberties Union" (May 8).

Action Group on Violence on Television ( 1997), "Report on a Classification System for Violence in Television Programming to be used in Conjunction with V-chip Technology", Report to the CRTC (April 30).

American Medical Association ( 1997), "RE: CS Docket No. 97-55 Industry Proposal for Rating Video Programming", Submission to the FCC (April 8).

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