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Marianne Paskowski

TV Biz 'Cowardly'

June 28, 2007 12:23 PM

That’s the gist of what Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said about the TV biz in a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on TV violence earlier this week. He called the industry “cowardly” in blaming parents for letting their kids see violence on TV, rather than itself.

Earlier Sen. Rockefeller introduced legislation in Congress that would let the FCC regulate TV violence. The FCC already has the power to issue fees for indecency, ala the infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction during a Super Bowl game several years ago.

So should the TV industry shoulder more responsibility for what it airs on TV? I say no. Broadcasters and cable operators have been dutiful in providing V chips and providing ample warnings in shows that the content might not be suitable for children.

Where in the heck are the parents? Last week at a flea market I saw a booth of cheap toys and was freaked out to see toy guns that looked like the real thing: semi-automatic hand guns, just like the police carry. The toy gun did have a red tip on the end, barely noticeable, to indicate that it was a toy.

But during a violent incident, when a police officer has to react quickly, those toy guys could, and have been mistaken for the real deal. But where’s the censorship there, with that flea market vendor selling something that could potentially be confused for a real weapon?

Bottom line: parents, and not the TV industry or that flea market vendor are responsible for their children’s behavior.


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Comments (12)


I couldn't agree more... it's not up to the government to regulate and keep track of what our kids watch on tv. And why is everyone always looking to blame tv or cable or someone else when something goes wrong? Bring up your kids with good values, monitor their behavior, set rules for what they watch on tv, and then it's up to them to become good citizens when they grow up.

Marianne Paskowski:


This is insane, not your comments, but what is underfoot at the regulatory level. What a total distraction from the issues Congress needs to face, let's start with Iraq, health care and immigration.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller is a Democrat, perhaps, only in name. Can't believe he's going down this slippery slope.

Regards & thanks,

For me this is deja vu with a bizarre twist. Back in college I worked with Action for Children's Television, helping to organize one of their national symposia at which regulating violence was much discussed -- an especially hot topic as the original Congressionally-mandated Surgeon General's report on TV and Violence had just been released,

The twist is that despite grave concerns about children imitating violent behavior at no time did Action for Children's TV or its army of child development experts advocate a censorship role for government. It was assumed that such a cure was worse than the disease -- not to mention emphatically unconstitutional.

What Peggy Charren and company always fought for was MORE children's TV and more parental choices. Ironically now that we have them, a vocal minority wants to limit those choices.

Whether the topic is video games or TV violence, it's especially sad to see moderate voices like Sen Rockefeller, Joe Lieberman and yes Hillary Clinton join forces with short-sighted would-be censors and right wing political opportunists.

As was proved by today's idiot maneuvering on both sides of the Fairness Doctrine issue, the public and its elected representatives need to regain the good old American ability to hold conflicting ideas in their heads at the same time. Television like the world at large has grown too complex for simplistic solutions.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Arthur,

This really troubles me. There is the First Ammendment. This would be action would be in violation of that.

Then there's the Patriot Act. Don't get me going.


Jeff Mulligan:


You've got it almost right this time. The television industry should be sensitive to the air times at which it broadcasts violent material. But it ultimately is a matter of parental responsibility.

Yet ... The TV industry is deficient in promoting how much control ia already available on V chips, cable parental lockout options, and TV remote programmability.

The industry uses the occasional PSA or the 6 a.m. MSO's announcement of service options to promote these. They should instead put a 15-second reminder into every other commercial pod appearing on all b'cast and cable nets reminding people: Do you know what your kids are watching?

If the TV biz doesn't have enough spine and long-term fiscal vision to do it, perhaps the government should mandate relief. But give the industry a chance to cambat the problem itself, and if it screws up, then it's fair game for legislation.

By the way, outlaw all look-alike toy guns. A kid will be just as happy with a replica Star Wars pellet gun as he or she would be with a replica Glock model G22 or Colt 1911.


Marianne Paskowski:


Thanks for your comment. Do you watch TV? Within any program, given the time slot are embedded messages, there for all to see,many times, out there notifying viewers about content issues, violence and sex.



Yo Blondie --

You question TV violence in America? Toy guns that look real? You're getting mushy liberal.

Fact is, violence is part of the American character. Why else the adventure in Iraq? Didn't matter that the UN inspectors had Saddam's MWD program shut down. Or Vietnam. God forbid we couldn't let a national patriot like Uncle Ho try to pull his country out of colonial subjugation.

If the public didn't love violence, it wouldn't be on TV. Lament all you want that interviews with Paris Hilton out-rate History Channel disquisitions on the origins of Mulim doctrine. Understand your audience. Once you do, you'll sell your TVs.

Cruisin not bruisin

Mr. Abernathy:

Dear Ms. Paskowski:

At our Institute (which I cannot name for purposes of anonymity), detailed log-logit analyses, backed by Cross-X Distriminant Analysis(TM)imply that violence viewed in television programming correlates with increased rates of violent crime, schoolyard bullying and tooth decay.

One therefore infers that TV violence is a sociological bummer.

Mr. Abrnathy

Marianne Paskowski:

I am not mushy, I am real. Strangely, I agree with all of your other bloviating.


Marianne Paskowski:

Mr. Abernathy:

Thank you for your response and you are correct. I have a pal out here a kid shrink who will point to similar correlations. But that doesn't solve the problem. Only parents can.



I'm not sure I'm ready for programming censorship, like Jack Bauer hauling a nuclear megalomaniac bad guy into a group therapy session as denoument to a season of "24." But is it time for the national nannies of approved speech to take over? Certainly not!

I vote for prominent rating warnings, a rating system that's realistic, and training for all parents who buy a TV. Then I vote for a heavyweight reading promotion program.

I'm sorry if the TV industry doesn't like that idea. But if they embrace it, let's not ask them to pay for the free spectrum access pusillanimous politicos have let them get away with since 1920.

In other words, if you want access to your First Amendment rights, then also access your obligation to responsibly pay for public spectrum. Clear trade.

Then again, how many politicians have the guts for demanding that?

Marianne Paskowski:


You got me thinking. Know way too may dual income families, who entrust their children with actual nannies. God knows what they do. Or don't do.


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