In the wake of a recently issued report by the Federal Communications Commission on media violence, which found such content to be harmful to children and possibly requiring congressional regulation, various groups have stepped up to both congratulate and criticize the report's findings.
The FCCs report's findings suggested a direct link between media violence, such as that seen on television or in video games, and increased aggressive behavior in children, at least in the short term.
The report also noted a belief that not enough was being done to monitor violent content, suggesting such actions as hands off as voluntarily scaling back violent content by television networks, or as intrusive as direct government regulation of violent media – something that officials from trade organization Media Coalition notes are both unnecessary and unprecedented.
“The FCC is broadcasting the wrong signal,” said Media Coalition executive director David Horowitz in a statement. “The courts have consistently found restricting violent content is contrary to the First Amendment.”
He added: “Contrary to what the FCC has implied in this report, the Supreme Court has made clear that speech is presumed to be protected by the First Amendment unless it falls into one of a few very narrow categories: defamation, incitement, obscenity, and pornography produced with children. Media with violent themes or depictions, on TV or otherwise, does not fall into any of these categories.”
Media Coalition officials note that the organization “believes that a sweeping government prohibition on all violent content fails to consider that different parents will make different judgments about what images are appropriate for their children.”
However, not all groups seem to be as opposed to the ideas brought up by the FCC, such as the non-profit National League of Cities, which represents municipal governments throughout the United States.
"The report just issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reinforces the importance of protecting our young people from exposure to the type of violence prevalent in most media today - from video games that engage children as active participants in the mayhem to the equally disturbing images of violent acts that come to young viewers through television, films, and the Internet," commented Bart Peterson, president of the National League of Cities and mayor of Indianapolis, Indiana in an prepared statement.
"The FCC report addresses several issues that deserve careful consideration as we move this critical debate forward, but there is one overriding theme made clear in the report: More must be done to protect our children from the harmful effects of media violence,” he continued. “We don't have to wait for congressional action or more regulation, however, to make a difference in protecting our kids. Mayors, neighborhood leaders, teachers and others can start now and bring this important topic front and center in their own communities.”
Indiana is one of many states that has tried unsuccessfully to pass bills aimed at restricting video game violence specifically. The most recent of these
aimed to fine retailers $1000 for selling or renting M or AO-rated games to minors, though it was halted over potential First Amendment concerns.
A similar fate has awaited other similar laws passed in recent years, generally because regulating violence requires a specific description of what is and is not appropriate, and most legislation has fallen victim to vague wording too open to interpretation.
However, despite this, groups seem to have marshaled their forces, both for an against the words of the FCC on this hotly debated topic. Noted Peterson, "For the health of our communities and the safety of our children, we as parents and community leaders must act now."