The Parents Television and Media Council is calling on the FCC and Congress to regulate streaming services.
That came Tuesday (June 8) after the heads of the top streaming services did not participate in its virtual town hall on better content controls.
“We renew our call on the top streaming companies who didn’t join our town hall to meet in some other public forum where they can identify Industry Best Practices, which all streaming platforms would adopt," said PTC President Tim Winter. "These guidelines should include, though not be limited to, reliable gating/blocking technology measures, and an accurate, consistent and transparent age-based ratings system."
PTC also renewed its call for the government to step in.
“It is abundantly clear that Congress and the FCC must help improve the streaming landscape for American families in order to prevent children from accessing harmful and explicit programming that proliferates in streaming media," Winter said. "We are urging the FCC to follow through on the promises that Congress made to families when it unanimously passed the Child Safe Viewing Act. And we are urging Congress to update the Family Movie Act of 2005..."
That is the law that allows for third parties to provide content-filtered versions of DVDs--editing out language or nudity--without getting permission from the content rightsholder.* It does not apply to editing video streams, which still requires permission of the copyright holder/distributor.
The argument goes that given that universal broadband availability and adoption are a national priority, there need to be better content controls given the range of adult-targeted online content, including on streaming services, that will be accessible by all the children in those households.
The traditional response for pay-for content was that it had been invited into the home, but broadband is being billed as a must-have, with the government paying to get it into the home if need be, which makes that a tougher argument.
PTC had invited key execs from Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount Plus, Peacock, to talk about ways to provide "adequate" parental controls and best practices, but said that none had accepted the invitation, though Apple TV Plus and Netflix did not rule out participating in possible future forums, PTC said.
Next TV reached out to those companies late Monday (June 7) to ask about their participation. Netflix co-CEO and COO Ted Sarandos said he had not heard of the event and did not know he had been asked to participate, which was why he was not planning to be there.
A representative of one of the other invitees said they were not familiar with the invitation and did not plan to participate.
The town hall came in the wake of PTC's report, Dollars and Sense: A Parent’s Guide to Streaming Media, which gave a mixed review for streaming parental controls and signaled there was room for improvement.
*"Family Movie Act of 2005 - Exempts from copyright and trademark infringement, under certain circumstances: (1) making limited portions of the audio or video content of a motion picture for private home viewing imperceptible; or (2) the creation of technology that enables such editing." Source: congress.gov.
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.
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