Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps used a New America Foundation content-control forum in Washington Wednesday to push for a study of the influence of media concentration on programming as part of a new ownership rule review being launched by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.
Copps said that ownership trumped all other issues relating to the media's affect on kids, saying that studying the connection as part of the crafting of any new ownership rules was vital if parents want "a world where there is wholesome programming for children."
Copps called on industry to "begin exercising some self-discipline during the hours when children are likely to be in the audience" by 1) providing understandable and accurate content control tools 2) slating more family-friendly programming, 3) re-instituting a programming code of conduct, 4) "doing something at long last about gratuitous violence," and 5) "protecting youngsters from viewing unsuitable ads and promos." He also said cable could "step up to the dialogue, too.
And speaking of ads and promos, Copps said children should have more access to "positive educational programming," and less access to "pre-canned, nationalized, vulgar fare that is aimed chiefly at selling products."
Parents need to do more, but can only control programming "to some extent," he said. That is why government--the FCC--needs to step in when broadcasters "step over the line."
"That's the law," he said, almost angrily. "Not for the FCC to debate but for the FCC to enforce. But he said that if parents and industry do more, the FCC won't need to step in as often.
Copps also argued for a K-12 media literacy campaign for kids, teaching them not only how to use the media, he said, "but how the media uses them."