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FCC lets radio off the hook in content filtering inquiry

Radio receiver pioneer Lee De Forest spent years trying to develop a device that would block radio commercials, but to no avail.

Radio receiver pioneer Lee De Forest spent years trying to develop a device that would block radio commercials, but to no avail.

The Federal Communications Commissions report on the state of content filtering and blocking devices is out. It says a whole lot about the V-Chip, satellite/cable blocking systems, video games, youtube, and mobile phone apps, but not much about radio. The survey continues:

“Most commenters addressing the issue contend that we should not examine audio-only programming in this proceeding. In general, these commenters agree that Congress did not intend for the Commission to inquire into music or radio. Commenters also note that, since the 1980’s, the music industry has administered a voluntary parental advisory labeling program to warn parents if an album contains explicit lyrics concerning sex, violence, or drug use. The program is run by the Recording Industry Association of America on behalf of record companies and producers who decide which songs and products receive the ratings. According to the 2007 Kaiser Family Foundation Study, 56 percent of parents who have used the music ratings found them very useful. In addition to ratings provided by the music industry, there are a number of independent websites that provide music reviews for parents, including Common Sense Media and Plugged In Online, as well as user-generated music reviews and sites that permit parents to examine music lyrics.”

You can filter out objectionable content on the iTunes store, the Commission’s survey notes, and most Sirius satellite radio receivers have some kind of parental control mechanism, but as for good old over-the-air radio: “We are unaware of any current blocking technology that would allow parents to protect their children from indecent or objectionable audio programming on terrestrial radio,” the FCC says.

Not there isn’t a demand for this. “The National Hispanic Media Coalition” sent the agency comments, the report adds,  disclosing that “many Latinos are particularly concerned about inappropriate sexual content on Spanish language radio and requests that the Commission inquire into blocking technology for such content.”


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