In a recent Public Notice, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Media Bureau sought comments on “the accuracy of the television content rating system, known as the TV Parental Guidelines, and the ability of the governing body for TV ratings, the TV Parental Guidelines Oversight Monitoring Board, to oversee the rating system and address public concerns.”
We thank those of you who took the time to write comments in response to our post. It is important for the commission to hear from you personally.
Your voice will also be heard as a supporter of Concerned Women for America (CWA). We submitted an official comment on your behalf, asking the FCC to “put American families
first.” In it, we argue the current rating system benefits the big entertainment conglomerates to the detriment of families and, especially, children.
An effort that was presented as aiming to benefit the public has in fact developed, unsurprisingly, into a system benefiting those who control it, the entertainment industry. Television is more dangerous for families today than it was before this system was devised.
You ask, “Are programs with violent, sexual, or other content that may be inappropriate for children being rated accurately?” No, they are not. Graphic sexual scenes, adult topics, violence, and profanity are routinely rated as appropriate for children. TV-14 and TV-PG ratings are routinely abused to peddle violent, lewd, and salacious content, to the horror of parents who are helpless once their children are exposed to the material without proper warning. This is, of course, an ideal business model which gives advertisers a much larger audience, but it is most certainly not in the best interest of families.
A major breakdown in the implementation of the rating system is the unaccountability of the industry-proposed and self-governing Oversight Monitoring Board (OMB). Here, too, we raise serious concerns on your behalf.
This is a darkly covered body overwhelmingly composed of industry members who even get to choose the very few advocates for families that are part of it. Transparency, which should be at the core of such a body, is virtually non-existent. There is no record of their meetings, when and how often they meet, what is discussed — everything is secret. How can the public feel any assurance that their complaints are being handled appropriately when the people they are complaining about get to judge themselves in secret with virtually no accountability?
The entertainment industry has been masterful in keeping this body under a deep cloud. Most parents do not have any idea that OMB even exists, let alone who is a member of it. They are completely unaccountable. How can we allow this to continue? CWA supporters can’t believe it when we inform them that not even a representative of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is part of this mysterious group. And since no press is allowed in the meetings either, can there be any doubt that the public is systematically and intentionally being kept in the dark on this process?
We conclude by urging the FCC to intervene.
It is time the FCC takes the concerns of parents in this area seriously and exercises the considerable power Congress has granted it to act in the best interest of the public. The entertainment industry has been granted the chance it wanted to do the right thing by families and come up with a process that could empower citizens with the information they need to make the best decisions for their families. But it has taken advantage of the public, betraying our trust, and it is time for the FCC to intervene.