Draft Bill: Rockefeller Considering Violent Video Legislation

According to a copy of a discussion draft of
the legislation, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), chairman of the powerful
Senate Commerce Committee and historically one of the loudest voices for media
violence regulation, wants to introduce a bill that would require the National
Academy of Sciences to study the impact of violent video games and video
programming on kids.

study would be motormanned by the Federal Communications Commission and the
Federal Trade Commission.

studies is not as threatening a bill as one that would, say, authorize the FCC
to regulate video violence as it does indecency, which the chairman has
championed before. But it clearly indicates his interest in not letting the
violence conversation end when the cable news cycle wheels on to the next big
story, though it would have to continue without any immediate input from the
study. The study would not be due for a year and a half, at least according to
the draft language supplied by a source.

goal of the study is to determine if there is a causal relationship between
video violence and aggressiveness or other harmful effects on kids, with a
particular emphasis on whether video games have a "unique impact" due
to their interactive, and "extraordinarily vivid" portrayals of

also asks for the answer to whether violence in video programming has harmful
affects distinguishable from other types of media and whether it causes
long-lasting cognitive harm.

in 2007, the FCC's own violence study -- at Congress' directive as
well -- concluded self-regulation wasn't working, that there was strong evidence
that violent media produce aggressive kids, and advised Congress to step in if
it wanted to give the FCC the power to regulate it. One suggestion -- this was
under then-Chairman Kevin Martin -- was to force cable to offerprogramming a la carte.
Congress did not end up acting on the suggestions for legislation.

was a similar push to crack down on media violence after Columbine, and the
report came out after the Virginia Tech shootings, but no bill was passed.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.