TV Bill Passes Key Committee

A bill that would prevent violent programming from being aired on television during hours when children are likely to be watching passed a key Senate committee last week.

Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, D-S.C., sponsored the “Children’s Protection from Violent Programming Act,” which gained support last week in the wake of a Federal Trade Commission report accusing the entertainment industry of marketing violent content to kids.

The bill argues that “there is a compelling governmental interest in channeling programming with violent content to periods of the day when children are not likely to comprise a substantial portion of the television audience.”

The bill would direct the Federal Communications Commission to determine if the TV content rating system and the V-chip are doing enough to protect kids.

The FCC would also be given the authority to determine what is violent programming and the right to establish a “safe harbor”—a period of time when it would be safe to air such content.

Final passage of the bill is uncertain, but the measure appeals to lawmakers who are angered by the entertainment industry’s marketing practices.

Advertising lobby groups consider the bill, which passed the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee by a vote of 16-2, unconstitutional.

“This will drive communication down to the level of the sandbox,” said Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers. “In protecting children from violence, we are doing violence to the Constitution.”