Sen. Ernest Hollings is again pushing legislation that would move broadcasts of violent shows to late-night TV.
The South Carolina Democrat plans to offer his latest "safe harbor" bill as an amendment during Tuesday's Senate Commerce Committee vote on legislation that increases indecency fines. "This legislation prescribes some very basic, concrete steps that we can take to defend children from the well-documented, ill effects of television violence," said Hollings, the Commerce Committee's senior Democrat.
The bill would require the FCC to ban violent programming during hours children are likely to be in the audience if a commission study finds that V-Chip channel blocking technology is ineffective in protecting children from unsuitable programming. While the study is underway, the FCC would have to prohibit broadcasters from airing violent programs without the "V" rating necessary for the V-Chip to screen them out.
Hollings has introduced versions of the safe harbor bill every Congress since 1993. Current co-sponsors are Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas; Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii; and Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. Hollings' proposal does not specify times for the safe harbor, but the legislation is modeled after the FCC's restrictions on indecent programs, which are permitted only between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
On the House side, the Commerce Committee's senior Democrat Rep. John Dingell and Commerce Committee colleagues asked the FCC to produce the violence report and to tell Congress whether the FCC believes it has the power to regulate violence already, and if not, what help it needs from Congress. During House Commerce Committee hearings on indecency, several members wanted to expand the definition of indecency to include violence.