Initial comments were recently filed in response to the FCC's Notice of Inquiry (NOI) regarding "advanced blocking technologies," as required pursuant to the Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007, available here. The Child Safe Viewing Act requires the FCC to examine the availability of and methods for encouraging the use of blocking technologies across a wide spectrum of platforms and devices.
Approximately 40 parties filed substantive comments in the first round of the proceeding, including companies and/or trade associations representing broadcasters, cable and satellite television operators, wireless operators, Internet companies, the advertising industry, consumer electronics producers and makers of blocking technologies. A number of public interest organizations also submitted comments.
The majority of commenters maintain that additional channel blocking regulation is not necessary and, in fact, would be counterproductive. Many parties state that, when used in conjunction with new and evolving technologies, the current TV Parental Guidelines and V-Chip system work well for parents wishing to monitor their children's exposure to potentially objectionable programming. In addition, many parties suggest that increased federal regulation would stifle innovation and potentially raise significant First Amendment issues. A number of parties further advise the Commission against imposing uniform regulations across diverse media platforms.
On the other hand, several public interest groups claim that the V-Chip and other filtering technologies are under-utilized and suggest that increased regulation is needed. A number of advocacy groups recommend that the V-Chip be modified so that it functions with multiple, independent ratings systems. Several groups advocate increased educational initiatives to boost awareness of parental control tools. Similarly, a small number of parties support the establishment of a new governmental working group that would review and evaluate the ratings, blocking and filtering services available across platforms.
Reply comments are due by May 18, 2009.
A link to the NOI can be found here.