Beyond Censorship

Technologies and Policies to Give Parents Control Over Children's Media Content


June 7, 2006

11:00 am - 11:00 am


New America

740 15th St NW #900

Washington, D.C. 20005

With the FCC dramatically increasing fines for indecency over broadcast TV -- and influential members of Congress threatening to extend decency standards to cable and satellite networks -- the debate over how best to protect children from inappropriate media has reached a fever pitch.

The problem is real: A plethora of studies show that repeated exposure to violence in the mass media increases aggression, desensitizes children to acts of violence and heightens their fears of becoming a victim of violence. Even benign entertainment programming is associated with soaring rates of obesity and diabetes among the young due to advertising for junk foods. And while television is today's primary battleground, it won't be long before most children have access to a portable wireless device with 24/7 access to unlimited video content over the Internet.

The main issue becomes: who is responsible for protecting kids from inappropriate media -- industry, the government, or parents armed with new technologies? This policy summit will bring together a diverse group of leading players from industry, government, academia and child and family advocacy groups to discuss and debate the best approach to protecting kids from inappropriate media -- and, ideally, facilitating parents' efforts to identify positive media programming. After brief "provocations" put key proposals on the table, participants will engage in an open discussion and debate concerning regulatory approaches and marketplace/technology approaches, as well as a more futuristic dive into what is to be done as mobile video over the Internet becomes ubiquitous.

Although the regulatory approaches -- V-chips, fines, family hours -- have emphasized the censorship of inappropriate content, less known are emerging technologies that promise to "guide" parents to educational programming and facilitate the filtering of good content from bad. For example, uniform ratings can warn about sex and violence, but they don't do much to guide parents toward the best programming. While the government's focus has been to block harmful programming, other research has established that well-designed educational shows -- such as PBS's Sesame Street, Between the Lions and Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues -- significantly enhance the cognitive development of pre-school-age children. New personal video recorder (PVR) and video on demand (VOD) technologies -- such as TiVo's KidZone -- will be previewed as tools to facilitate parental choice.

Video of Michael Calabrese's opening remarks and the first presentations can be played at right. For all video from this event, please click here. And for additional documents related to this event, please see below.


Kaiser Family Foundation
1330 G Street, NW Barbara Jordan Conference Center
Washington, DC, 20005
See map: Google Maps


  • The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
    (D-NY), United States Senate
  • The Honorable Mary Landrieu
    (D-LA), United States Senate
  • The Honorable Rick Santorum
    (R-PA), United States Senate (invited)
  • The Honorable Michael Copps
    Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
  • The Honorable Deborah Taylor Tate
    Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission

  • Kimberly Barnes O'Connor
    Deputy Director, National PTA
  • Claire Green
    President, Parents' Choice Foundation
  • Jeannine Kenney
    Senior Policy Analyst, Consumers Union
  • Tim Lordan
    Executive Director, Internet Education Foundation
  • Jeff J. McIntyre
    Senior Legislative Affairs Officer, American Psychological Association
  • Patti Miller
    Vice President and Director, Children & the Media Program, Children Now
  • Brent Olson
    Assistant Vice President, Regulatory Policy, AT&T
  • Lesli Rotenberg
    Senior Vice President, PBS KIDS Next Generation Media
  • Michael Calabrese
    Vice President and Director, Wireless Future Program, New America Foundation
  • Drew Clark
    Senior Writer, National Journal Group