Parental Control Perfection? The Impact of the DVR and VOD Boom on the Debate over TV Content Regulation
Adam D. Thierer
George Mason University - Mercatus Center
October 11, 2007
Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper No. 14.20
New technologies that allow families to easily tailor their media consumption undermine the pervasiveness rationale for government regulation of content.
Both the variety of family programming options now available and new technologies, such as digital video recorders (DVRs) and video on demand (VOD) services, are helping to fully empower parents to control what media is consumed in their household.
Included are devices that allow parents to acquire libraries of approved content, such as DVD players, VCRs and the more recent DVRs. A large variety of family-friendly programming available from broadcast, cable and satellite television further helps parents effectively manage their family's viewing habits.
The widespread availability of these technologies coupled with the wealth of programming options available have profound implications for debates over the regulation of television programming. Content-based regulation of broadcast media has historically been justified by the pervasiveness rationale, or the idea that the medium is uniquely invasive in the home and readily accessible to children. The multitude of parental control options available in addition to the empowerment technologies mentioned above undermines this justification for content regulation. There is no basis for singling out broadcast media for unique regulation in light of competition from new video platforms.
The pervasiveness rationale for government regulation of video content is an aging relic of bygone media and regulatory era. It would be a mistake to accord lesser First Amendment protection to any type of speech or media provider based on that rationale when parents have been empowered to control media that enters their home.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
Keywords: Parental Control, VOD, DVR, family programming, tv programming, family-friendly, cable, satellite, pervasiveness, pervasiveness rationale, control regulation, government regulation, FCC, tv violence, myth TV, Pacifica, video programming
JEL Classification: D1, D11, D18, L5, L50, L82, O38working papers series
Date posted: November 15, 2007
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