The New $300 million TV content control campaign being briefed before the Senate Commerce Committee this week will be tagged to a Website, www.thetvboss.org.
The boss is a TV remote, and the sponsors of the new campaign are the studios, cable and broadcast trade associations, consumer electronics manufacturers, broadcast networks, and the Ad Council.
The effort, being announced today,according to the Ad Council, is essentially a PSA campaign sending parents to that Website, where they can get information about existing content control mechanisms like cable channel blocking, the V-chip/ratings system, and creating a "media plan" and guidelines for kids viewing.
One suggestion for parents who want to watch adult fare: "Use the VCR or DVR and watch your shows when your child is asleep."
And in contrast to the daunting pages-long V-chip instructions in some TV manuals, the Website features an "easy" six-step process for activating the V-chip, though it also counsels surfers to check their owners' manual as well.
The humorous PSA campaign, created pro bono by McCann Erickson, shows parents taking active steps to control their TV Watching.
In a somewhat macabre spot on the Website, a take-off on The Sopranos, the wife of "Vinnie," who has been whacked in the head with a shovel by the PSA's version of Tony Soprano, tells him and his henchfolk that their whacking was too graphic for the kids and she will have to block them.
The humorous kicker: "Tony" pulls out a watch and says it was Vinnie's and he would want her to have it.
The campaign is an effort by the TV industry, in the wake of boosted indecency fines and talk of targeting cable programming and violent shows, to ward off further government content control by convincing/informing parents they already have the power and the responsibility to control content themselves.
The networks have committed $300 million in donated airtime to the campaign, which will extend to TV, radio, print, and Web advertising.
Ted Stevens, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, whose committee's decency forum last fall spurred the effort, has said he thinks the campaign can succeed, but is taking a wait-and-see approach.
The campaign was spearheaded by Jack Valenti, former Motion Picture Association of America president, who created the movie ratings systems more than three decades ago to stave off similar content regulation of that medium.
The FCC does not regulate cable indecency, but FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has backed mandated a la carte as one way to give parents more control of programming lineups, an effort the cable industry says wreaks havoc with its business model and threatens niche channels. The industry has already begun offering family-friendly tiers, again at the urging of government.
Broadcasters face far heavier fines for indecency after Congress raised them ten-fold to a maximum $325,000 per violation.