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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
May 14 , 2007
(202) 289-8928
Parental Controls Can Better Regulate TV Violence
Thierer: Available Tools Superior Alternative to Government Regulation

WASHINGTON D.C. - Use of the wide variety of available parental controls and other methods are a much better alternative to government regulation to address concerns about children's exposure to violence on television, states Adam Thierer in "The Right Way to Regulate Violent TV." In the new Progress on Point released today by The Progress & Freedom Foundation, the author explains that technological controls, household media rules and other private sector efforts offer parents more control over their child's exposure to objectionable content than government regulations that could violate First Amendment rights. The release of the paper coincides with a PFF event on the recent FCC report recommending government regulation of violence on television.

In his paper, Thierer, PFF Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Digital Media Freedom, counters recent calls to have the government regulate violence on television. He cautions lawmakers against policies that could be struck down in court as unconstitutional. Recent decisions, he explains, have been ruling in favor of a "least restrictive alternative" and away from broad, government-imposed censorship. Thierer also states that new technological tools can be used to tailor programming to a family's specific needs and values, letting them maintain more control over the information and programming their family is exposed to.

Thierer lists a wide variety of tools and methods, both technical and non-technical, which can be used to control what media content children are exposed to in the home. These include private ratings systems, V-chips, personal video recorders, controls provided by cable and satellite providers, and formal or informal household media consumption rules. The sample list of tools and methods cited in the paper are adapted from Thierer's upcoming Special Report, "Parental Controls and Online Child Protection: A Survey of Tools and methods."

Thierer also identifies ways that concerned parents and others can work with third parties to gather information and even to work within the media marketplace to influence what fare is shown on broadcast and cable television. The author highlights ratings and reviews provided by independent organizations and the many educational efforts aimed at teaching adults about parental controls available for all types of media, including television, movies and games.

Thierer views the wide range of tools available to parents as a better alternative to government imposed regulation of content on television. He concludes that if "some parents are not taking advantage of these tools and options, their inaction should not be used to justify government regulation of programming as a surrogate for household/parental choice."

This Friday, Thierer will be hosting a PFF Congressional Seminar, "The Complexities of Regulating TV Violence," from 12:00pm to 2:00pm. To register for the event and for more information, please visit the PFF website. In related activities, Thierer recently published an article in the City Journal on the recent FCC violence report. "Should We Regulate Violent TV?" is available online.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation