Senate Passes Pryor Bill to Protect Children from Indecency on TV and Internet

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Senate today passed legislation introduced by Senator Mark Pryor that hands parents more control over the content their children view on TV and the Internet.

Pryor introduced the Child Safe Viewing Act in February 2007 to expand parents’ ability to protect their children from inappropriate scenes and language online, on television and other viewing devices. His bill requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fulfill its obligation under the 1996 Telecommunications Act to continuously review and implement blocking technology as it is developed. As part of the 1996 law, Congress required television manufacturers to embed the V-Chip within televisions to allow parents to filter some content according to a rating system. However, the FCC has failed to act since then.

“With over 500 channels and video streaming, parents could use a little help monitoring what their kids watch when they are not in the room,” said Pryor. “Today’s technology to protect children from indecency goes above and beyond the capabilities of the V-Chip. It’s time for the FCC to take a fresh look at how the market can empower parents with more tools to choose appropriate programming for their children. This bill is a pragmatic, sensible approach where parents, kids and technology can all benefit.”

Pryor said parents are alarmed at the increasing amount of sexual scenes and violence on TV and the Internet. He believes they would take advantage of easy-to-use tools that would shield their children from inappropriate content. He cites a 2005 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation that reports the number of sexual scenes on television has nearly doubled since 1998. A separate Kaiser report estimates that approximately 90 percent of kids aged 8 to 16 have viewed pornography online, primarily while doing homework.

The legislation now must be considered in the U.S. House of Representatives before going to President to become law.