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U.S. Considers Unified Movie, TV, And Games Rating Systems

sjohnson
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Posted August 31, 2009 - By Stephen Johnson

X-ratedRegulators in the U.S. are considering consolidating different content rating systems we use into one, more comprehensive rating system. Play an "M" rated game, see an "R" movie and watch a TV-MA show on the television. Instead, TV, wireless telephone content and video games could all have the same rating system.

The FCC is considering the change to make it easier for parents and guardians to pick and choose what children see and listen too.

Broadcasters, along with trade groups for the video game industry, wireless providers including AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, and software makers such as Microsoft Corp., have voiced opposition to the plan. Basically, no industry wants the government to come in and start regulating. The ESA (video gaming's trade arm) takes issue with the idea that video games fall under the FCC watch at all.

Obviously, no industry is going to be in favor of the government regulating it, and it might not even be constitutional for the FCC to "step in," but what about the core idea behind the FCC's concern? Basically, the argument is that the rapidly changing media environment makes it very difficult to keep track of what content comes into your home.  Is learning 3, 4 or 5 different ratings system an unfair burden on parents trying to keep control over the images and music their children consume?

In a perfect world, the different industries would get together and institute a comprehensive and easily understandable system of rating that anyone could understand across all affected media. That would keep the FCC from stepping in and keep parents happy. Just as long as there's a rating equivalent of NC-17. *IE: This content is definitely for adults, but it is not pornography.) in every field, including video games, I'm in favor of it.

I regard rating systems as a necessary evil -- you can't dumb everything down to the level that children can tolerate, but you have to make it possible for people to raise children without exposing them to objectionable content. If I were in charge of the entire earth (and I may well be) I'd update the ratings system for movies and apply it across fields--it's the most understood, oldest, and (in my opinion) most useful rating system. Entertainment industries are almost always responsible when it comes to this kind of rating, and I imagine that will continue. Everyone's needs can be met without the need of the government to step in and start rating things.

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U.S. Considers Unified Movie, TV, And Games Rating Systems
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