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The Right Way to Regulate Violent TV

24 Pages Posted: 16 May 2007  

Adam D. Thierer

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: May 14, 2007


Use of the wide variety of available technological controls, household media rules and other private sector efforts are a much better alternative to government regulation to address concerns about children's exposure to violence on television. Lawmakers should be wary of policies that could be struck down in court as unconstitutional, considering recent decisions that have ruled in favor of a least restrictive alternative and away from broad, government-imposed censorship.

Numerous tools and methods, both technical and non-technical, which can be used to control what media content children are exposed to in the home, include private ratings systems, V-chips, personal video recorders, controls provided by cable and satellite providers, and formal or informal household media consumption rules.

Concerned parents and others can work with third parties to gather information and even work within the media marketplace to influence what fare is shown on broadcast and cable television, by making use of ratings and reviews provided by independent organizations and the many educational efforts aimed at teaching adults about parental controls available for all types of media, including television, movies and games.

But if, for whatever reason, some parents are not taking advantage of these tools and options, their inaction should not be used to justify government regulation of programming as a surrogate for household/parental choice.

Keywords: Parental controls, child protection, FCC, tv violence, A La Carte, carte, cable censorship, media censorship,tv censorship, government censorship, media regulation, FCC, family programming, TV programming, TV regulation, family friendly, family networks, V-chip, media violence,children's programming

JEL Classification: D1, D18,I2, I20, I28,L5, L50, L82, O38

Suggested Citation

Thierer, Adam D., The Right Way to Regulate Violent TV (May 14, 2007). Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper No. 14.10. Available at SSRN: or

Adam D. Thierer (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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