FCC To Study Single Rating System For Movies, Video Games, TV & Music

from the under-what-mandate? dept

GamePolitics reports that the FCC is planning to study the idea of a “universal rating system” for all kinds of media, including movies, music, video games and television. According to the Bloomberg article on this, the FCC actually has a mandate to do this under a 2007 law that gave it authority to explore blocking technologies, though that seems to go well beyond the official mandate of the FCC to only monitor communications using public infrastructure. Furthermore, every single attempt to put in place a gov’t mandated solution for a ratings system has been struck down as unconstitutional (and a bunch have been tried). Every rating system you see now are voluntary agreements from the industry. Having the FCC even explore such an issue raises some serious constitutional questions.

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Comments on “FCC To Study Single Rating System For Movies, Video Games, TV & Music”

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Dark Helmet (profile) says:

You know what, this is really simple

Sorry, FCC, but when you, the watchdog agency of the United States Telecom industry, declined to investigate the nation’s largest telephone companies’ complicity with illegal NSA wiretapping, then you’re no longer of any interest to the country.

Get this straight, you primitive idiots, when you decline to do your goddamn job, then you don’t get to have that job any longer. And yes, I realize that it was Kevin Martin who made that decision in 2006, but this new Obama guy could certainly reopen the investigation and hasn’t.

Until you want to do ALL of your job, I don’t want to hear from you, you FCC retards.

….I may have to move up my takeover timetable. Lord Helmet likes his videogames unrated and explicit in nature….

Anonymous Coward says:

If done correctly this could be a good thing (neither of those will be true)

my dream is to see a system where content producers are given clear guidelines that they can then use to self rate.

It could be on a point scale, 1-100. each type of objectionable content would have a point value, say violence would be 25 points, blood from that violence would be another 25.
The point scale would then be broken down into 4 categories. 1-25 for everyone. 25-50 for PG 50-75 for teen, and 75-100 for mature or R. Any rating above R is pointless because adults should be able to watch anything.

This rating system would be enforced not by the government, but by the media (if anyone wrongly rates their content then the media goes into a frenzy about it)

I realize that this is a pipe dream, and that reality will be much like it is today. We’ll get another secretive ratings board with arbitrary and politicized rulings (if the court battle doesn’t get it thrown out first)

Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve actually wanted a universal rating system for some time. It would actually be a win for the video game industry because M rated games often are not nearly as graphic as R rated movies. Dead or Alive beach volleyball for example was rated M, however if it were a movie it wouldn’t get more than a PG13 rating. I’m talking bout the first DOAX, not the second mind you 🙂

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

This could be a good idea

I think that it’s a good idea to make a universal rating system. I also think that it should be the TV rating system with their added little letters to let you know what it was rated that way for. This will help parents do their job and only have to remember one set of ratings.

I don’t think the FCC should mandate this. That would be a government required rating system requiring a central government controlled rating board and is the exact same thing as government censorship (with or without the government controlled board). This is a first amendment issue.

Josh (profile) says:

Re: This could be a good idea

I agree. It cannot be mandated, but having a single universal rating system is good. The TV rating system is fine, but the video game system is more detailed. While it has generalizations such as the anyone/teen/mature/adults-only, it also has descriptive ratings that distinguish between simple blood or far more ‘gore.’

David (profile) says:

A good system

There was a good system in the local paper a few years back. It had, I think, 4 catagories – Sex, Violence, Language, Drug Use. It then had descriptions of how much of each of those was in the movie, not just a number, but actual words. Like “non-sexual nudity”, or “Marijuana use, frowned upon”. Things like that. There was no “ratings” otherwise. You could then decide whether showing your kids tits would scar them for life, but watching decapitations with blood spurting out was fine. Guy smoking a doobie but shown as a loser? Bad. Parents accidentally eating pot brownies and acting weird? Okay.

The ‘problem’ with it was that there isn’t a single number. You had to actually read a bit to see what was what.

I recently saw “Midnight Cowboy”. There is not a whole lot of sex shown (a bit of male butt and a few tits), and none of the actual “action”, just before and after. Some drug use. Implications of homosexuality. Maybe a little language. Today, it wouldn’t take editing more than a few seconds here and there to give it a PG-13 rating, but back then it was X.

You can’t show people having sex, but it’s okay for the characters to say “My ankles were up to my ears” (from “Will and Grace”).

Sorry, but a single letter or number isn’t really doing anyone any good. Think of how you’d rate your local museum – nudity, violence – at least an ‘R’, right? How about the recent arrest of a model posing nude at the Met, a museum full of nudes paintings? How about the uproar over Janet Jackson’s breast at the Superbowl? One freaking breast. And yet “Saw” was recently shown on the Syfy channel. How fucked up is that?

Jon B. (profile) says:

“How about the uproar over Janet Jackson’s breast at the Superbowl? One freaking breast. And yet “Saw” was recently shown on the Syfy channel. How fucked up is that?”

I’m with you on pretty much all of that.

The Janet Jackson thing was that the show is advertised as a family show (rating numbers, promotion etc) and then that whole performance happened. If the show is advertised as such, I don’t think there’d be much problem with it.

And Saw… yeah… I saw bits of it while it was on. But it was Saw II, which I didn’t like a too much. How much did they cut out? They had to have cut out a great deal. But you’re right, the whole suggestive nature of the movie is more important than what’s shown in explicit scenes.

Even Saw I was more implicit than explicit, except for a few scenes. (That’s part of what makes it originally a great movie.)

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“The Janet Jackson thing was that the show is advertised as a family show”

Which is what made the uproar over the situation so comical.

The NFL as family entertainment is a joke: Professional football is a game BASED on violence, played mostly by criminals, and mostly watched by grown men. The game is so violent that the average lifespan of an NFL player is 55 years old, some 22 years shorter than the average American, and these are ATHLETES: http://www.sptimes.com/2006/01/29/…/A_huge_problem.shtml

The Super Bowl as family entertainment is a joke: In addition to the violence on the field, you have the sex and liquor off of it. Cheerleaders, beer commrcials, etc. are highly sexualized and filled with liquor adds in which the women are hot, the men are idiotic, and children are damn near non-existent.

Question: what is more damaging to a child’s mind, seeing Janet Jackson’s nipple for half a second, or watching that commercial in which Bob Dole is petting his dog with a raging hardon while watching a Britney Spears commercial that includes an ejaculating Pepsi bottle?

The halftime show as family entertainment: Another joke. Sexualized female singers like Britney Spears and Janet Jackson followed by a whole mess of male singers that just love to grab their dicks while performing: Kid Rock, Justin Timberlake, and Nelly to name a few. All the while it’s produced by MTV, as if they have anything to do with music any more. In the words of Lewis Black, anyone who watches a minute of MTV knows that it would be more accurte to call it the Boner Network.

But yeah, we were all just so shocked and outraged when a member of the Jackson family (maybe THAT’S what they mean by family entertainment) did something fucked up.


Chucklebutte (profile) says:


How about we get rid of ratings altogether? What happened to common sense? You are trying to tell me that with names like Mortal Kombat, Thrill kill, and cant forget Grand Theft Auto that you cant figure out what those titles are about? serious?. Just alone those names would tell me everything I need to know about these games to make a decision if I would buy them for my child or not.

Stop making a parents job easier than people think it is (Its not easy but its definitely fun!) The point is ratings are not very useful or helpful cause lets face it if you want it you gonna get it regardless of how you get it. They also make the package so ugly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Surely you jest that something is against the constitution? Do we still use that old document? It was probably more of a suggestion than a mandate anyway. I mean it isn’t like anyone died to bring us that thing anyway; is it?

Yeah, that was my first thought – the last sentence should have read:

Having the FCC even exist raises some serious constitutional questions.

If we as a country believe that we need a federal commission to regulate communication, then by all means let’s amend the Constitution to make it happen.

Olz (profile) says:

Rating systems

The big problem with rating systems as they stand is that they are blanket ratings. An “R” could be for any number of things. When I was in high school (many, many) years ago an “R” meant at least one scene with female breasts.

If they want a meaningful system they each type of “objectionable” material within the medium would have to get its own rating. So a movie might be on a 1 to 100 scale: Drugs 47, Nudity 3, Langauge 93, Sexual situations 13, Violence 80.

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