B’casters submit new rating code

WASHINGTON — The television industry officially filed its new, and much more detailed, ratings system with the Federal Communications Commission.

There are few surprises in the filing, since most of the industry announced on July 10 that they would add symbols to the current age-based code to indicate that a show has sex, violence or adult language. The new code also has symbols for risque dialogue and fantasy violence for animated kidvid.

NBC is the only major broadcast network that is refusing to implement the new content code.

Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC has the authority to determine if the content code is “acceptable.” If it is not, the FCC can appoint a commission to create a new rating system. But there is nothing in the law that requires the industry to implement the code. In its filing, the television industry reminded the FCC that its decision to implement a code is “voluntary.”

“Program producers and distributors were … explicitly left by Congress with the discretion to determine whether they will rate their own programming,” states the filing.

The FCC is expected to evaluate the new rating code later this fall.

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