TV and Movie Biz Support Rockefeller Plan to Study Violent Content (Updated)

The cable, movie and broadcast lobbies are throwing their support behind Senate Commerce Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller’s proposal for a comprehensive study of videogame and video violence, introduced in the wake of the Newtown massacre in December.

The Commerce Committee voted on Tuesday to move forward with the legislation, which calls for the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a comprehensive investigation into whether childhood exposure to violent videogame and video is harmful. The legislation also singles out videogames in calling for an investigation into whether its interactive nature “have a unique impact on children,” but it also identifies video, a broad category that could include everything from TV to Internet streaming.

“We welcome further academic examination of the reasons behind societal violence, as proposed by Senator Rockefeller, and will continue to be productive partners in the conversation about culture in America,” the MPAA and the National Cable and Telecommunications Assn. said in a statement on Tuesday.

The legislation, which calls for a 15-month study, is similar to that proposed by President Obama in January. His set of recommendations in the wake of the school killings called for the Centers for Disease Control to conduct a $10 million study.

Last week, National Assn. of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith said that they also supported Rockefeller’s bill, citing “conflicting scientific data” on “whether a link exists between violent content and real-life violence.”

The industry trade associations have launched a series of public service announcements and have enhanced guides instructing parents on content ratings, as well as TV parental controls.

The trade association representing the videogame industry, the Entertainment Software Assn., has maintained that studies have shown no causal relationship between violent videogames and childhood behavior. A spokesman for ESA did not have an immediate comment.

Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, has long been critical of violent content, although a Supreme Court decision in 2011 struck down California’s violent videogame law, raising serious doubts about the government’s ability to regulate violent media.

There is no word yet on when the legislation would get a floor vote on the Senate.

Update: The Electronic Software Assn. says that they have “always supported objective scientific research and appreciates the opportunity for an ongoing dialogue with Chairman Rockefeller and members of the Committee.” They also cited work to raise awareness of their ratings system and parental controls.

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