On October 23, 2009, the FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comment on a number of issues related to children's use of electronic media and the current regulatory landscape that governs the availability of electronic media to children. The NOI serves as a follow-up to the FCC's August 2009 Child Safe Viewing Act Report to Congress concerning the status of "advanced blocking technologies" that may assist parents in protecting children from indecent or objectionable programming. Accordingly, the NOI seeks comment on the following issues relating to parental control tools: (i) the level of consumer awareness of parental control tools; (ii) the adoption rate for such tools; (iii) ease of use of such tools; (iv) consumer familiarity with and understanding of ratings systems; and (v) the industry's pace of innovation. With respect to the V-Chip in particular, the Commission asks what actions, if any, Congress, the Commission or industry should take to increase the adoption of the V-chip, whether parents have doubts about the reliable application of the existing "TV Parental Guidelines"; and whether the creation of a uniform rating system applicable to various platforms would be appropriate.
In addition, the NOI raises a number of broader issues concerning the availability of electronic media to children and the appropriate role for the Commission in this arena. Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on issues such as whether its rules implementing the Children's Television Act of 1990 have been effective in promoting the availability of educational content for children; whether sufficient marketplace incentives exist to create educational content for children; and whether it has the statutory authority to take any proposed actions. The NOI also seeks information on a broad range of issues relating to the extent to which children are using electronic media today, the benefits and risks these technologies have for children; and the ways in which parents, teachers and children may benefit from the opportunities presented by electronic media while potential harm is minimized.
A link to the NOI can be found here. The comment date and reply comment date in this proceeding are January 25, 2010, and February 22, 2010, respectively.