Jack Valenti, President and CEO Motion Picture Association of America
Decker Anstrom, President and CEO National Cable Television Association
Eddie Fritts, President and CEO National Association of Broadcasters
cc: Chairman and Commissioners Meredith J. Jones
Roy J. Stewart Christopher J. Wright
1 The Web site can be accessed at . 2
See 141 CONG. REC. H8486 (daily ed. Aug. 4, 1995)(Statement of Congressman Markey)("All of the
ratings will be done voluntarily by the broadcasters."); id at H8495 (Statement of Congressman
Moran)("What we do is ask the broadcast industry to rate their own programs.").
The icons will occupy 40 scan lines on the television screen. This is twice the size that the Commission
determined to be adequate for sponsor identifications oil political advertising. See 47 C.F.R. §
73,1212(a)(2)(ii); Codification of the Commission's Political Programming Policies, 7 FCC Rcd. 1616
( 1992). Notably, the Telecommunications Act does not require distributors of video programming to
display ratings on-screen, and the legislative history also includes no suggestion that stations would do
so. Broadcasters and cable networks nonetheless decided to carry the on-screen icon to ensure that
parents would have access to this information before the "v-chip" in [sic] available in television sets. By
so agreeing, tile industry is thus exceeding Congress' expectations.
H. REP. No. 458, 104th Cong., 2d Sess. 195 ( 1996)("The conference agreement adopts the House provisions with modifications.").
Nonetheless, the Implementing Group devoted thousand of hours to designing the system, meeting with
educators, children's advocacy groups, medical and psychological experts and groups, as well as
producers and distributors of television programming, in order to design a system that would at the same
time be easy to use and understand and provide the most useful information to parents. A list of these
groups is attached. Thus, in developing the Guidelines, the industry went far beyond the process that
Perrin v United States, 444 U.S. 37, 42 ( 1979)("A fundamental canon of construction is that, unless
otherwise defined, words will be interpreted as taking their ordinary, contemporary, common meaning.").
While the Commission's Rules use the term "acceptable" in a variety of contexts, none of them appear
to relate to tile question before the Commission here. See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. § 1.4000(a)(2)(iii)(preempting
local regulation that precludes reception of an "acceptable" quality signal); 47 C.F.R. § 5.207 (applicants
for a pioneer's preference may submit an "acceptable" showing of technical feasibility)-, 47 C.F.R. §
15.117(c)(Note)(discussing "acceptable" television tuning mechanisms); 47 C.F.R. § 68.318(b)(1)(establishing minimum "acceptable" standards for certain terminal equipment), 47 C.F.R. §
73.702(g)(Note)(although FCC prefers field strengths equal to or greater than IFRB standards, lesser
field strengths will be "acceptable"); 47 C.F.R. § 73.3522(a)(6)(applicant whose application is not
"acceptable" for filing granted opportunity to correct deficiencies). Further, there is no evidence that
Congress knew about or considered any of these uses of tile word "acceptable" when it drafted the
Surveys of parents show that roughly 80 percent believe that the MPAA movie ratings system is useful
or very useful as "a guide for deciding what movies children should see." Opinion Research Corporation
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The V-Chip Debate:Content Filtering from Television to the Internet.
Contributors: Monroe E. Price - Editor.
Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Place of publication: Mahwah, NJ.
Publication year: 1998.
Page number: 271.
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