The Other Boot


The FCC has finally dropped the other shoe on the TV violence issue, or should that be a steel-toed boot with a knife slipped into the side aiming a swift kick at the industry's backside..

That boot is in the form of its report to Congress, which is full of coulds but no shoulds. Does that mean the commission doesn't think the action needs to be taken. No, but it is signaling the industry to do something before government strikes again.

There will be no need for Congress to draft legislation regulating TV violence if the industry will only: Channel its own programming later at night, adopt a family hour, make its ratings failsafe and foolproof, which if I am in the equation is virtually impossible, and adopt an a la carte cable regime.

That's not about to happen, however, so Congress may wind up debating a violence bill and even passing someting in one or the other House, but regulating violence is too problematic to become the law of the land. Look at how tough it is for the FCC to regulate indecency without having to backtrack–Bono, profanity, Sarah Jones.

Regulating media violence is even tougher, a point the courts have made in shooting down attempts to do it. The FCC recognizes that difficulty, but says Congress can do it anyway. The commission didn't feel up to the task of defining it itself. Just as well. The whole indecency defining thing hasn't gone so well.

The FCC punted, said Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein essentially said in a lengthy and lively statement and said actually to a few of us scribes). He made it clear his vote for the report had more caveats than bullet holes in a CSI corpse. Actually, his was the only vote with a formal reservation, approving only part of the report, while concurring in part.

I have plenty of my own reservations about the report., even as I struggle with my distaste for the flood of violence on TV. It is after all, my distaste, and obviously not many others'.

But what I can say, and will, is that TV networks should be more careful about where they put promos for slasher films. Enough said.

By John Eggerton