FCC launches inquiry into advanced blocking tech


The Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007, adopted in December 2008, is not before the public. It instructs the FCC to issue a notice of inquiry to determine the state of the art when it comes to keeping children away from inappropriate electronic entertainment. The wide open proceeding looks consider “technologies that can improve or enhance the ability of a parent to protect his or her child from any indecent or objectionable video or audio programming, as determined by such parent, that is transmitted through the use of wire, wireless, or radio communications.” The FCC’s report is due to Congress by 8/29/09.

“In conducting this proceeding,” wrote the FCC, “we will examine blocking technologies that may be appropriate across a wide variety of distribution platforms and devices, can filter language based upon information in closed captioning, can operate independently of pre-assigned ratings, and may be effective in enhancing a parent’s ability to protect his or her child from indecent or objectionable programming, as determined by the parent.”

The FCC notes that while Congressional hearings on this topic have revolved almost exclusively around television/visual programming, the inquiry does refer to audio-only content. So even though radio is rarely mentioned specifically, the FCC seeks commentary as to whether is should be included, and if there are any techniques that would aid parents when it comes to audio-only content.

The inquiry also addresses cable/satellite, wireless, non-networked devices (like DVD players) and internet content.

All three commissioners enthusiastically welcomed the NOI.

RBR/TVBR observation: We also enthusiastically welcome this proceeding. Any tool which puts distance between the FCC and content regulation is a great thing.