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Tribe to Argue Against Regulating Violence on TV

May 23, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Broadcast, cable groups and filmmakers are tapping one of the deans of First Amendment law to make their case against legislating new limits on TV violence.
The National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the Motion Picture Association of America have jointly hired Harvard University Professor Laurence H. Tribe to draft an opinion to present to the Senate Commerce Committee. The committee is expected to hold a hearing on the violence issue in late June.
Mr. Tribe has previously stated his view that the First Amendment bars the government from restricting content that isn’t misleading or fraudulent. He also has argued that the government can’t broadly restrict content for adults in order to protect kids.
He has argued First Amendment cases before the Supreme Court and various appellate courts and testified to Congress on attempts to limit tobacco advertising. Mr. Tribe also argued Vice President Al Gore’s case in the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court fight in 2000.
Broadcast and cable groups said today that the hiring of Mr. Tribe reflects their determination to oppose a proposal from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., that would give the Federal Communications Commission explicit authority to regulate violent programming on broadcast TV and cable, much as the FCC regulates indecency.
The pressure for legislation was bolstered by an FCC report in April saying excessively violent TV is hurting kids and branding content ratings and the V-chip “insufficient” or “ineffective.”
The report urged Congress to take “action” to regulate violent programming, but deferred to Congress any decision on what action and what’s violent.
“There is strong evidence that exposure to violence in the media can increase aggressive behavior, at least in the short term,” the FCC said in a unanimous 22-page report on violent programming. It suggested any regulation should apply to cable as well as broadcast TV.
The FCC report also mentions violent commercials as an issue, but took no stand on their regulation.
(Editor: Horowitz)

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