Archive for the ‘US News’ Category

Over mature and ripe for improvement…The US Communications Regulator publishes a report criticising the TV ratings system

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us tv ratings America’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has published a report about the US TV rating classification system.The familiar TV ratings, TVY, TV7, TVG, TVPG, TV14, TVMA are essentially self administered by the TV companies but there is an overview body called The TV Parental Guidelines (Oversight) Monitoring Board. The board describes itself:

The TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board is responsible for ensuring there is as much uniformity and consistency in applying the Parental Guidelines as possible. The Monitoring Board does this by reviewing complaints and other public input and by facilitating discussion about the application of ratings among members of the Board and other relevant industry representatives. The Monitoring Board typically meets annually or more often, if necessary, to consider and review complaints sent to the Board, discuss current research, and review any other relevant issues. The Board also facilitates regular calls among industry standards and practices executives to discuss pending and emerging issues in order to promote ratings consistency across companies.

In addition to the chairman, the Board includes 18 industry representatives from the broadcast, cable and creative communities appointed by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), NCTA 203 The Internet and Television Association, and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and five public interest members, appointed by the Board chairman.

The chairman id Michael Powell and the board representatives are from

  • 21st Century FOX
  • ABC
  • A+E Networks
  • AMC Networks
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of America
  • Call for Action
  • CBS
  • Discovery, Inc.
  • Entertainment Industries Council
  • HULU
  • Lifetime Networks
  • National PTA
  • NBC Universal
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Turner Broadcasting System
  • Univision
  • Viacom Media Networks

The TV ratings are frequently criticised, at least by morality campaign groups and recently the FCC responded by undertaking a review of the TV rating system. The FCC has just published its findings and concurs with much of the criticism. The FCC writes:

fcc logo After reviewing the record as a whole, our primary conclusion is that the Board has been insufficiently accessible and transparent to the public. For example, when the Bureau began its work on this report, the Board’s website did not even include a phone number that someone could call to reach it. We are pleased that this problem was recently fixed. But in our view, additional steps should be taken to increase awareness of the Board’s role and the transparency of its operations. Below are suggestions along those lines that we submit for Board and industry consideration.

First, we urge the Board and the video programming industry to increase their efforts to promote public awareness of the Board and its role in overseeing the rating system. We urge the Board and the industry to increase their outreach efforts concerning the existence of the rating system and consider additional ways in which they can publicize the ability of the public to file complaints, along with instructions on how complaints can be filed. In this regard, as noted, the Board recently reactivated a telephone number for use in contacting the Board and also provides a post office box where physical mail can be sent.

Second, we suggest that the Board consider ways to inform the public regarding the number of complaints it receives, the nature of each complaint, the program and network or producer involved, and the action taken, if any, by the network/producer or the Board in response to the complaint. For instance, the Board could consider issuing an annual report on the complaints it has received about the ratings of programs, how those complaints were adjudicated, and whether complaints led to the rating of a program being changed in future airings.

Third, we suggest that the Board hold at least one public meeting, that is publicized with adequate notice, each year. This would permit the public to express their views directly to the Board and help the Board better understand public concerns regarding program ratings.

we suggest that the Board consider doing random audits or spot checks analyzing the accuracy and consistency of the ratings being applied pursuant to the TV Parental Guidelines. This information could be used, in addition to the survey data already collected by the Board, to help assess, and if necessary, improve ratings accuracy. Such information would also allow the Board and the industry to consider whether any changes are needed to the guidelines themselves to ensure that they are as helpful as possible to today’s viewers, consistent with the Board’s commitment.

We note the ratings system has not changed in over 20 years and, despite its longevity, many commenters contend that the rating system is not well-understood or useful to parents.

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maga klan An artist who redesigns President Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) hats into recognizable symbols of hate speech says she has been banned from Facebook.Kate Kretz rips apart the iconic red campaign hat and resews it to look like other symbols, such as a Nazi armband or a Ku Klux Klan hood.

It all seems a bit hateful and inflammatory though, sneering at the people who choose to wear the caps. Hopefully the cap wearers will recall that free speech is part of what once made America great.

The artist said Facebook took down an image of the reimagined Nazi paraphernalia for violating community standards.

She appealed the decision and labeled another image with text clarifying that the photo was of a piece of art, but her entire account was later disabled. Kretz said:

I understand doing things for the greater good. However, I think artists are a big part of Facebook’s content providers, and they owe us a fair hearing.

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Texas state seal The Texas State Legislature has passed a bill criminalizing the electronic transmission of unrequested erotic material, including images of any person engaging in sexual conduct or with the person’s intimate parts exposed or covered genitals of a male person that are in a discernibly turgid state.The bill, H.B. 2789 , was unanimously passed 31-0 by state senators from both parties. It is to take effect, after the governor signs it, on September 1, 2019.

The unprecedented legislation, called An act relating to the creation of the criminal offense of unlawful electronic transmission of sexually explicit visual material creates an offence:

if a person knowingly transmits by electronic means visual material that:

  • (1) depicts:
    (a) any person engaging in sexual conduct or with the person’s intimate parts exposed; or
    (b) covered genitals of a male person that are in a discernibly turgid state; and

  • (2) is not sent at the request of or with the express consent of the recipient.

The bill classifies the offense as a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.

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donald trump The US Whitehouse has set up a page on the online form building website, typefac.com. Donald Trump asks to be informed of biased censorship. The form reads:

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Yet too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear violations of user policies.

No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump.

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Song Of The South DVD When Disney’s streaming service Disney Plus launches in the US in November this year. It will feature a back catalogue of many years of Disney films with one exception. Namely the 1946 film Song of the South, which has long been a controversial title for Disney because of how it depicts the lives of African-American plantation workers in the southern states after the civil war.The company has also decided to cut a scene from Dumbo that is considered racist.

Song of the South grossed $65m at the US box office but was never released on DVD in the country, partly because of criticism about its depiction of the lives of Uncle Remus and other former slaves on a plantation as idyllic.

However, erasing the film from the company’s history isn’t simple. The success of the song Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah — which features in the film, won an Oscar in 1947 and is one of Disney’s most well-known songs — makes it extremely difficult to quietly forget.

Also the Jim Crow scene from Dumbo (1941) will not be available on the streaming site. In the original animated version of the film a number of cigar-smoking crows had a leader called Jim Crow referencing the Jim Crow laws which enforced racial segregation in the south. The Disney crows are largely considered to be thinly veiled racist caricatures.

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springer opera house logo A popular, uncensored weekly performance event at the Springer Opera House in Columbus Georgia has been put on hold following a skit involving a joke with the line ‘fuck Jesus’. The Springer announced that it suspended indefinitely the No Shame Theatre event following the inevitable social media backlash. A statement said:

The incident that occurred at No Shame last night in no way represents the values or mission of the Springer Opera House. Management is investigating the situation. At this time, No Shame Theatre is suspended indefinitely. Our patrons are our No. 1 priority. Your happiness and comfort are key to our organization’s success. Thank you for patience as we further investigate this matter.

At the end of almost every show, the event ends with a segment called Sex with Me. Members of the audience suggest a person or item to use as a comparison. The host picks a topic, and other members of the audience create jokes. In Friday’s event, host Alli Kaman chose Jesus from the suggested topics.

Four people spoke with the Ledger-Enquirer about the event. One man claims the host of the event said ‘fuck Jesus’ ; another claims that it was a member of the audience who yelled the phrase; and another pair claimed they didn’t hear anyone yell the expletive.

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us congress The Parents Television Council have reported that the FCC is required to review the TV content ratings system and report on the effectiveness of the system within 90 days, as per the Appropriations Bill of 2019. Specifically, the Conference Committee Report says:

Oversight Monitoring and Rating System.-In lieu of Senate report language on oversight monitoring and rating system, the FCC is directed to report to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate within 90 days of enactment of this Act on the extent to which the rating system matches the video content that is being shown and the ability of the TV Parental Guidelines Oversight Monitoring Board to address public concerns.

PTC President Tim Winter said:

Finally, after more than 20 years, Congress is addressing the needs of families and the welfare of children by formally calling for the first-ever regulatory review of the TV Content Ratings System and its ostensible oversight. We are elated that this important legislative wording was adopted as part of the appropriations bill that funds the federal government for this fiscal year.