Children’s Television Controversy

By Mary Kate Buckman

Over the years, there has been a significant rise of indecency in the media. Parents have fought for regulation of this material because there can be harmful effects on children when they are exposed to violence and foul language. On the other hand, many believe that increased regulation of the media is a violation of free speech. The opposing ideas about the issue has created controversy regarding laws about the media.

In 1973, a father complained that his child had heard obscene language on the radio. Following the accusation, a Supreme Court case, FCC vs. Pacifica Foundation, lead to implementing “safe harbor hours”, which are hours that broadcasters are legally permitted to air indecent material. The hours are 10pm-6am because children are unlikely to be viewing during that time. Safe harbor hours is one of many solutions enforced in attempt to regulate the media content that children are exposed to.

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In 1990, the Children’s Television Act  was passed to further monitor the television content of children and aimed to increase the educational programming available to children. It required that broadcasters air at least three hours of educational programming for children each week (3 Hour Rule). This obviously aimed to have positive impacts on children’s television, however, there were less diverse educational shows as a result of the act. Furthermore, a report shows that during the first eight years that the act was enforced the number of television programs considered to be highly educational dropped from 43% to 29%. Although there are some positive effects of the act, there are many unforeseen negative effects. The Children’s Television Act is still enforced, which impacts the viewing of Americans today.

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Although the regulations of television programming for children has somewhat successfully monitored the exposure of indecent content to children, there will likely be further revisions to the policies as well as new policies enforced.

 

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