The great First Amendment protector Robert Corn-Revere has an excellent assessment of last week's FCC report of "violent television programming and its impact on children." Corn-Revere concludes:
The FCC's report is not so much an analysis that helps answer the questions Congress asked nearly three years ago, as it is a statement that the commission would applaud legislation if Congress chose to act. But all the heavy lifting remains to be done. The report, for example, recommends that "lawmakers should make specific findings to support such restrictions" if it wants to adopt regulations that are "sustainable." Congress would need to perform a serious constitutional analysis as well.
The questions Congress asked three years ago? They included "What are the effects of viewing violent programming on children and other segments of the population?"; "If particular portrayals of violence are more likely to cause deleterious effects than others, what specific kinds of programming should be the focus of any further public policymaking in this area?"; "Should any further public policymaking address all violence or just excessive or gratuitous violence, and how should that be defined?; and "Are there legal constraints on either Congress or the Commission to regulate violent programming?"
So thanks for clearing all that up, FCC.
Corn-Revere notes something else worth pondering as legislative and regulatory actions (presumably) get underway:
Congress will gain far more insight from reviewing the Federal Trade Commission's sixth report on "Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children," released just a couple of weeks ago. In that largely unnoticed report, the FTC reviewed relevant precedents and found that courts have uniformly struck down efforts to "treat violence like obscenity" or indecency and to impose either direct content regulations or mandatory ratings. Accordingly, the FTC concluded: "Given important First Amendment considerations, the Commission supports private sector initiatives by industry and individual companies."
Reason's Kerry Howley read the FCC report and detected violent tendencies toward parents. Read all about that here.