Senators Pryor and Hutchison Applaud FCC Action to Protect Children from Indecent Content on TV

March 3, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), along with several children’s advocacy groups, applauded action taken by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to advance a critical review of modern parental-control technology.

The FCC on Monday issued a Notice of Inquiry, the first step towards implementing the Child Safe Viewing Act, which was signed into law on December 2, 2008. The legislation was designed to expand parents’ ability to protect their children from inappropriate scenes and language online, on television and other viewing devices.  It requires the FCC to fulfill its obligation under the 1996 Telecommunications Act to continuously review and implement blocking technology as it is developed. The law requires a full report to Congress before August 29, 2009 of today’s parental-control technology.

“This law empowers parents with more tools to choose appropriate programming for their families,” said Senator Mark Pryor.  “I’m pleased the FCC is taking a fresh look at how market-inspired technology can effectively control the sounds and images our young children are continuously exposed to through the media.”

“I am pleased that the FCC has taken steps to begin a comprehensive review of existing blocking and filtering technologies.  It is a critical step toward developing the next generation of parental control tools,” said Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.  “As a mother of two young children I know how important it is to have options to monitor and protect children from inappropriate or harmful material, and I am committed to working with my colleagues and the FCC to spur new technologies.”

“This Notice of Inquiry is a great opportunity to review the technology and information currently available for parents to protect their kids, and to explore ways that we can work together to improve the those tools,” said Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media.  “Parents want to keep their kids safe and smart in this 24/7 media world, and we should empower them with information that is clear, accessible, and works across all media platforms.”

“Everybody agrees that parents deserve better resources to help protect their children from inappropriate content on television.  PTC research has repeatedly demonstrated that the current V-chip technology relies on a faulty content rating system, and therefore it cannot provide adequate safeguards.  This proceeding and this legislation are important first steps towards the implementation of more functional and reliable solutions for parents and families.  We are grateful to Sen. Pryor for his leadership to better empower parents to protect their children,” said Parents Television Council President Tim Winter.

During the last Congress, Senator Hutchison sponsored several pieces of legislation to help protect children online. These included bills that will coordinate the efforts of state and local officials to address online enticement of children, child exploitation and pornography (the Protect our Children Act), bring parents, industry, and teachers together to address comprehensive education for children online (Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act), and mandate that convicted sex offenders register their email addresses, instant messaging screen names, or other identifiers used to communicate over the Internet (Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act). 

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