Toward a Kinder, Gentler Sopranos


Get ready for a bloody fight over fake violence:

An upcoming FCC report recommending steps that Congress can take to regulate television violence has sharply divided the agency's five members.

Multiple sources said Republican Chairman Kevin Martin and Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps, who are spearheading the crackdown on graphic scenes, had approved the latest version of the report.

The report concludes that Congress can regulate violent TV images without compromising the First Amendment. It has created some unusual alliances — teaming Martin and Copps, who are often at odds, while dividing Copps and Adelstein, who normally move in lockstep.

Shortly after the FCC report's release, Sen. John (Jay) Rockefeller, D-W.Va., plans to reintroduce legislation that would expand the FCC's "indecency" regulations to pay TV and allow the agency to restrict violent fare on broadcast, cable and satellite.

A television industry source predicted that, even if the FCC approves the report 3-2, Rockefeller's bill would easily pass the chamber because "no one's going to oppose violence [legislation]."

At the moment, indecency regs mainly pertain to the threat of exposed nipples and other innocence-killing lady parts. The authors of the report want to expand the definition of indecency to include graphic violence.  FCC comissioner Robert McDowell says he's all for it.