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Activists Weigh In on Restricting TV Violence

A coalition of TV writers and producers was the first of many industry and citizens groups expected to offer a take on the Federal Communications Commission’s inquiry into the need for restricting violent TV programming.

Instead of restricting when violent programming may air, as the FCC is considering, the Center for Creative Voices in Media, the Caucus for Television Producers, Writers & Directors, and children’s TV activist Peggy Charren suggest the FCC embark on a series of public-education campaigns to promote healthy viewing habits.

“Censorship should always be a very, very last resort, not a first resort,” the groups wrote in comments filed with the FCC Friday. Instead, the FCC should encourage parents and TV programmers take to responsibility for what kids watch on TV. For instance, FCC education campaigns modeled after a new effort to promote digital television could educate the public and the TV industry on the danger “gratuitous violence” does to children.

Other suggestions include a media-literacy drive to promote critical thinking about media messages, as well as promotion of the V-chip channel-blocking device and parental controls available from cable and DBS operators.

The group also called on the FCC to promote the “Healthy Media, Healthy Children” program that members of Congress and private executives are sponsoring to identify research examining the impact of violent programs in kids.

Separately, the National Hockey League implored the FCC not to drag sports programming into the inquiry. “Any definition that would take into account the various team sports currently on television would be confusing legitimate sporting events with artificial events specifically created for their violent aspects ... or whose very nature is violent,” such as professional wrestling or boxing.

The FCC is considering whether to limit the hours when violent programming may air to times when children are not likely to be in the audience. If such a rule is imposed, stations could be fined for violating the restriction.