US TV industry to launch $300 mn ad campaign on parental controls

MUMBAI: Former Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) chief Jack Valenti has taken upon himself the responsibility of educating parents on what their kids should watch on television.

At the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference, Valenti announced plans for a $300 million ad blitz in June by television broadcasters, networks, cable operators, satellite television and the consumer electronics industry about how parents can control what their kids watch.

According to media reports, though Valenti insisted that this is an effort to respond to parental demands that more choices be available to protect children, the general aim of the campaign is a direct effort to keep lawmakers from toughening the current rules on television content, especially the fines assessed to noncompliant stations.

Valenti said in announcing the campaign, "No one today knows what is indecent. We want to tell American parents that they and they alone have total power to control every hour of television programming that comes into their home. We hope in June we will launch all over this country thousands of messages going into each parent's home so in time they will know the power that they possess."

The ad campaign comes at the same time that a crackdown by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on broadcast television stations is being waged. The current push for the FCC is for US lawmakers to extend the indecency restrictions now in place to the subscription television industry.

"We need clearer guidance from the FCC and Congress on where the lines are drawn. The FCC's recent decisions have done little to clarify what broadcasters can air. The intention for the advertising campaign is to advance parental use of control mechanisms and the TV ratings systems," said NAB chief executive officer David Rehr.

US regulations bar radio and television broadcasters from airing indecent material, usually profanity or sexually explicit content, except late at night when children are less likely to be in the audience. The FCC proposed $3.6 million in fines against television stations for decency violations, including about $3.3 million against CBS stations for airing an episode of Without a Trace that depicted teenagers engaged in group sex.

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