Report urges FCC to limit TV violence

16 Feb 2007

(Associated Press via NewsEdge) Beaten up and strapped to a chair, once again it looks like the end for Jack Bauer, the hero of Fox Network's hit show '24.' Using his wits (and his teeth), Bauer goes for the jugular, literally.

Broadcasters are free to televise such cringe-inducing scenes of violence with relative impunity in the US

But a new draft report from the Federal Communications Commission suggests the government may be able to limit violence on TV in a way that does not violate the Constitution.

The long-overdue report suggests Congress could craft a law that would let the agency regulate violent programming much like it regulates sexual content and profanity, by barring it from being aired during hours when children may be watching, for example.

The report also suggests that cable and satellite TV could be subjected to an 'a la carte' regime that would let viewers choose their channels.

Citing studies, the draft says there is evidence that violent programming can lead to 'short-term aggressive behavior in children,' according to an agency source, who asked not to be identified because the commission has not yet approved the report.

The report, requested by Congress, is sure to alarm executives in the broadcast and cable industry, members of the creative community and First Amendment advocates.

A bipartisan group of 39 House members nearly three years ago requested a report by January 1, 2005, discussing whether the FCC could define 'exceedingly violent programming that is harmful to children.' It also asked whether the agency could regulate such programming 'in a constitutional manner.'

The FCC's authority is limited to licensed broadcast stations. Content on cable networks that is not available over the airwaves is beyond the agency's reach.

© 2007 The Associated Press

© 2007 Dialog, a Thomson business. All rights reserved

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