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FCC Will Look at Violence

Prompted by reporters' inquiries Thursday, staffers for Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell acknowledged that he has ordered the agency's Media Bureau to rearrange its 2004 work schedule and dive into drafting an inquiry examining the impact of TV violence on children.

The inquiry was prompted by a request from leaders of the House Commerce Committee.

Powell's staff says the bureau will complete the draft "in the near future" and it will be submitted for FCC commissioners' reviews soon after.

In March, Commerce Chairman Joe Barton, Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton, and the respective committees' ranking Democrats John Dingell and Ed Markey, requested that the inquiry be completed and a report submitted to them by Jan. 1, 2005.

The committee wants the report to address the harm that excessively violent programming does to children. It also wants to know whether it is in the public interest to define programming that would be considered "excessively violent," whether it is constitutional to prohibit that programming when children are likely to be viewing, and whether the FCC already has the authority to make that prohibition or whether it needs Congress to authorize that power for the FCC.

In January, Powell suggested that the indecency fines were too low and that he, too, was concerned about sex and violence on TV.