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House Passes Child Safe Viewing Act

The House Friday followed the Senate's lead and passed the Child Safe Viewing Act by unanimous consent, but without language that had explicitly blamed TV content for the FCC's directive to explore new content-blocking and managing technologies, according to an aid to bill sponsor David Pryor (D-AR).

But with the House's amendment of the bill to remove that “findings” section, the bill must be re-voted in the Senate, with the staffer saying the senator did not object to the omission and that they are hoping for Senate passage in a lame duck session before the end of the year.

 The bill still requires the FCC to collect data on the most advanced methods for blocking video content, including on wired and wireless platforms and across a variety of platforms including TVs, DVD players, VCRs, cable set-tops and wireless handsets.

 One of the arguments broadcasters are making in their challenges to FCC indecency actions is that the V-chip/ratings system is an effective content-control tool and, thus, a more narrowly tailored means to the government's end of protecting children. The Pryor bill asks the FCC to look at technologies that operate independently of any ratings system as well.

 The FCC would be required to initiate a rulemaking proceeding to encourage, or even mandate, use of such technologies to "enhance the ability of a parent to protect his or her child from indecent or objectionable programming, as determined by such parent."

 But gone is the whole "findings" section below, that put blame on "harmful TV."

 "1) Video programming has a direct impact on a child's perception of safe and reasonable behavior.

 (2) Children may imitate actions they witness on video programming, including language, drug use, and sexual conduct.

 (3) Studies suggest that the strong appeal of video programming erodes the ability of parents to develop responsible attitudes and behavior in their children.

 (4) The average American child watches 4 hours of television each day.

 (5) 99.9 percent of all consumer complaints logged by the Federal Communications Commission in the first quarter of 2006 regarding radio and television broadcasting were because of obscenity, indecency, and profanity.

 (6) There is a compelling government interest in empowering parents to limit their children's exposure to harmful television content.

 (7) Section 1 of the Communications Act of 1934 requires the Federal Communications Commission to promote the safety of life and property through the use of wire and radio communications.

 (8) In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress authorized Parental Choice in Television Programming and the V-Chip. Congress further directed action on alternative blocking technology as new video technology advanced."