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

By Monroe E. Price | Go to book overview

Respectfully submitted,

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

Attachments cc: Chairman and Commissioners Meredith J. Jones Roy J. Stewart Christopher J. Wright


Notes
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.").
3
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.
4
H. REP. No. 458, 104th Cong., 2d Sess. 195 ( 1996)("The conference agreement adopts the House provisions with modifications.").
5
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 Congress anticipated.
6
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 Telecommunications Act.
7
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 (Sept. 1996).

-271-

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