Earlier this month the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood filed a response to a key question in the FCC's NOI—"the extent to which inappropriate commercials [are] aired in programming viewed by children and on possible solutions to this problem." CCFC was happy to oblige, updating the agency on one of its key campaigns. The group, a coalition of 30 media reform organizations, wants the Federal Trade Commission to "ensure that PG-13 movies are not marketed to young children." Bottom line: CCFC has asked the Motion Picture Association of America to limit television advertising of PG-13 movies to shows where over half of the viewers are thirteen or over, or just set 9:00pm as the "watershed" for the promotion of these films. That would put the ceiling an hour earlier than when TV stations can broadcast fare that the FCC defines as indecent.This is just a political move, with Transformers being used as an example of why a change in policy might be needed. Considering the huge amount of advertising revenue involved, the networks, movies studios, and more will happily throw some lobbyist dollars into making sure no changes are made that could affect their revenue and the selling their movies.
CCFC complains of a phenomenon that it calls "ratings creep." Your typical PG-13 movie these days is more violent and sexual than it used to be, the group says. "In other words, many of the PG-13 films that are routinely marketed today to children as young as seven—and often marketed to preschoolers—are films that would have been rated R fifteen years ago." On top of that, parents have no tools that filter commercials for these movies, and "are left without any options by the current regime."
High on CCFC's list of disliked films are the Dreamworks productions Transformers and its recent sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The advocate launched a veritable crusade against the marketing of the first film in the summer of 2007. CCFC's protest against the campaign pointed out that despite its MPAA PG-13 tag—"intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, brief sexual humor, and language"—the public has been treated to a tsunami of Transformer toys, games, themed Lunchables, lollypops, and gummy candy. Ads for these items and more have been shown on children's shows like Fairly Odd Parents and Jimmy Neutron, that are rated TV-Y ("appropriate for all children ... including children from ages 2-6"). And indeed, to get a sense of the intensity of these selling sprees, check out toymaker Hasbro's current Revenge of the Fallen webpage.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Transformers and FCC Content Filtering Inquiry
The Transformers movies have been caught up in a content filtering inquiry by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that is being done for Congress. Apparently the goal is to come up with a compendium of all the various blocking, filtering and rating devices used by the various entertainment industries. As a result the many lobbyists are coming out of the woodwork to add their two cents. From Ars Technica: