WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) - The Senate Commerce
Committee approved legislation Thursday asking the Federal
Communications Commission to oversee the development of a super
V-chip that could screen content on everything from cell phones
to the Internet.
Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., the sponsor of the Child Safe
Viewing Act, claims that the new law is necessary because
content is no longer confined to the TV or radio, and he
contends the same technology that allows content to
increasingly migrate from device to device also can be used to
"It's an uphill battle for parents trying to protect their
kids from viewing inappropriate programming," Pryor said. "I
believe there is a whole new generation of technology that can
provide an additional layer of help for these parents."
The bill requires the FCC to review, within one year of
enactment, technology that can help parents manage the vast
volume of video and other content on television or the
Under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, TV makers are
required to embed the V-chip within televisions to allow
parents to block content according to a rating system.
A section of the 1996 law also ordered the FCC to review
and implement advanced filtering technology as it is developed,
and Pryor said the commission has been dragging its feet on the
"My bill simply lights a fire under the FCC to take a fresh
look at new options in the marketplace," he said.
Pryor's legislation is the second anti-content bill
approved by the commerce committee. Last month, it approved
legislation overturning a federal court decision that found
without merit FCC rules punishing broadcasters for a
accidentally cussing on the air.
A third bill that aims to regulate violent content much the
same as indecent speech is expected to be introduced soon. Sen.
Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has plans to introduce the
anti-violence bill, but it was unclear when.
Under federal court rulings and commission rules, material
is indecent if it "in context, depicts or describes sexual or
excretory activities or organs in a patently offensive manner
as measured by contemporary community standards for the
broadcast medium." Indecent speech can be aired safely from 10
The government's indecency rules do not apply to cable or
the Internet. A series of laws attempting to regulate speech on
the Internet have failed.