Congress hosts TV indecency forum

Kevin Martin, chairman of America's Federal Communications Commission, and others were given the chance to address Congress at an all-day forum on indecency today, the Associated Press has reported. The forum was held in response to increasing tension over the issue of children's exposure to violence and sexual situations on television, which has become a hot topic as the universe of cable and satellite TV continues to expand.

Martin declared that cable and satellite providers should increase their efforts to protect children from such seamy content or else face federal strictures on content. "Parents need better and more tools to help them navigate the entertainment waters, particularly on cable and satellite TV," he said. He then shared several possible strategies, such as providers offering a "family-friendly" channel package or a package composed of channels individually selected by the consumer.

Representatives from several cable and satellite television companies contended that such "a la carte" channel selection would create more work for them, which would in turn cause higher subscription costs for customers. They claimed that they are trying to ensure that parents know how to use the channel-blocking tools that they offer.

Many TV shows are currently branded with one of six content ratings meant to aid parents in determining what is appropriate for their children to view. These guidelines also work with V-chip technology, which is installed in most home televisions and allows parents to block shows with unacceptable ratings.

Martin believes that consumers should not have to pay for, and then block, offending channels because they are included in cable or satellite packages. "You can always turn the television off and of course block the channels you don't want," he said, "but why should you have to?"

Many others voiced their opinions on either side of the matter, including the Christian Coalition, which demanded higher fines for on-air indecency. These fines would only partially address the problem, however, as today's obscenity and indecency standards don't apply to satellite or cable broadcasting.

While some are eager to see those standards widened to cover the lacking arenas, others insist that broadcaster self-regulation is the only constitutional solution. Jack Valenti, former president of the Motion Picture Association of America, urged Congress to share his point of view. If the restrictions were imposed, he said, it would "begin to torment and torture the First Amendment."

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"You can always turn the television off and of course block the channels you don't want," he said, "but why should you have to?"

I can always watch rubbish televsion that satisfies the Christian Coalition, but why should I have to? Instead, i'll continue to watch engrossing pieces of art like Rome.

How can you make a show about one of the bloodiest periods of human history look like an episode of 7th Heaven? But more importantly, why on earth would you want to?

Keep making television that is real and engrossing MPAA. It's the way to make people think and not just make them think your way.
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For god sake man, you been given a V-Chip. USE IT!
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If you were not forced to buy packaged deals then you would not be able to watch the Weather Channel even if you wanted to because not enough people would subscribe to that channel for it to be provitable. The same could be said for more than half of the channels that you are now forced to subscribe to in a package.
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no way
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'As long as parents and teachers refrain from assisting young children with good values and guidance on things such as reality and fantasy, someone like the FCC needs to act to ensure that American children don't think that the way people are treated on the TV is the way we treat people in everyday life.'

...and how shall the FCC go about teaching our children these somewhat fallacious ideas? It is not up to the government, let alone the FCC to teach our children anything. It is the responsibility of parents first and foremost to teach their children these things. That is where it starts- at home.

I agree with the FCC that parents shouldn't have to be forced to pay for and then block channels that offer content which conflicts with the best interests of the child(ren) in question. However, I do not think in any way shape or form that the FCC has any right to 'act to ensure' anything accept the regulation of the frequencies utilized by broadcasting facilities. That's it. They don't even have the right to impose punishment or levy fines against any broadcast facility for content alone; the circumstance is constitutionally acceptable only in the case of 'Frequency Misuse', which is defined as 'crossing into a frequency not assigned to or designated for' the station that frequency is assigned to. Nowhere is there any mention of decency or offense.

The last I checked, we had freedom of speech in this country. Perhaps the idea of having all this government in our hands is too much for some of us to handle it in a manner that is responsible and not morally reprehensible. That is why the FCC had to start levying fines, because the networks weren't being responsible broadcasters. Even in The Netherlands, there are nude women and men in commercials all over the television networks, but they come on after 10:00pm. If it comes on before, they don't get a fine, but what would be the point to putting those kinds of things on before 10:00pm? The only reason that comes to mind is so that children can see them. And that is morally reprehensible.
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While I mostly agree with the other comments here, let me make one point. Why, if I want to get News or Sports or even Cartoon channels should I be forced to pay for material that I 1. don't watch and 2. morally disagree with and 3. would not pay for if i was not forced to in order to get the channels I want to see. While I can understand the value of free speech, don't make me pay for HBO or MTV so I can watch The Weather Channel.
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I feel that responsibility for monitoring a child's TV intake falls solely on the parents. The goverment's responsibility to protect us, does not mean they should prevent the characters of The OC from having sex, the characters from The Sopranos killing people, or the characters in That 70s Show from smoking pot. In America we have the freedom to express ourselves as we see fit, if someone is offending you in day-to-day conversation you have the choice to walk away and/or shield your children from them. This is just like the TV, if you find a show or particular channel offensive, it is a part of your freedom as an American to turn it off and/or shield your children from seeing it.
The entertainment community has added many concessions to help parents to choose the proper programming for their children: V-chips, parental blocking controls, as well as rating most TV shows. It is now up to the parents to decide what is and what is not appropriate for thier children. Growing up my parents did not allow me or my brothers to watch many shows they found offensive or innapropriate for children. That, in my opinion, is how this situation should be handled--by the parents.
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We can't leave the responsibility of teaching morals up to our teachers and the FCC. Parents need to be actively involved. What we should be teaching our children is how important and valuable the First Amendment is.
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As long as parents and teachers refrain from assisting young children with good values and guidance on things such as reality and fantasy, someone like the FCC needs to act to ensure that American children don't think that the way people are treated on the TV is the way we treat people in everyday life.
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As long as parents and teachers refrain from assisting young children with good values and guidance on things such as reality and fantasy, someone like the FCC needs to act to ensure that American children don't think that the way people are treated on the TV is the way we treat people in everyday life.
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I never thought about this kind of stuff but now that I have a kid I'm mildly interested.
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Last time I checked, no one ever forced anyone to watch ROME, or South Park or any other program that may or may not be explicit in nature. I agree with Mr. Valenti when he infers that we must uphold the First Amendment. I would hate for some of our favorite shows to disappear only because people can't learn to turn the TV off, or be responsible enough to monitor what they would like their child to watch. No one is foced to add special cable packages to their TV, and if this is such an issue to them then I have a simple answer: Don't subscribe.
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