Parents Television Council Denounces Supreme Court Ruling

by Matt Bertz on Jun 27, 2011 at 06:43 AM

A conservative advocacy group that specializes in filing content complaints to the FCC isn't a big fan of the Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association decision.

As I'm sure you're aware, earlier today the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law barring the sale of violent video games to children on first amendment grounds. The 7-2 decision has irked groups like the Parents Television Council, which has made its mark by monitoring television programming for indecency and filing complaints with the FCC when it comes across a show it deems lewd and lascivious. PTC president Tim Winter issued the following statement in the aftermath of the ruling:

“When an industry trade group files a federal lawsuit to defend a child’s constitutional rights, the alarm bells should be deafening. It is hard to imagine a more cynical proposition. Sadly, today’s ruling proves the United States Supreme Court heard the video game industry loud and clear, but turned a deaf ear to concerned parents. The Court has provided children with a Constitutionally-protected end-run on parental authority.

“This ruling replaces the authority of parents with the economic interests of the video game industry. With no fear of any consequence for violating the video game industry’s own age restriction guidelines, retailers can now openly, brazenly sell games with unspeakable violence and adult content even to the youngest of children.

“The carefully-worded California statute would not have interfered in any way with the rights of the creators of adult games or the adults who wish to buy them; and in fact, it would not interfere with parents who wanted to purchase such a game for their children. Rather, the measure only would have prevented an unaccompanied minor child from buying or renting the product. 

“Countless independent studies confirm what most parents instinctively know to be true: repeated exposure to violent video games has a harmful and long-term effect on children. Despite these troubling findings, video game manufacturers have fought tooth and nail for the ‘right’ to line their pockets at the expense of America’s children. Today, the Supreme Court sided with them and against parents.  

“We call on the Entertainment Merchants Association to redouble its efforts for increased enforcement of the industry’s age-based vending restrictions. The Federal Trade Commission and the PTC’s own ‘Secret Shopper’ campaigns have routinely demonstrated an abysmal failure rate for video game retailers to uphold the industry’s own age-based restrictions. With the exception of GameStop, many in the video game industry appear to be either unwilling or unable to prevent the sale of M-rated games to kids. Now with no threat of consequence for failure, we are concerned that the self-regulatory efforts will be violated in even greater numbers than they already are. We will be monitoring this very closely.

“The Parents Television Council is proud of its unwavering support for California State Senator Leland Yee’s leadership and legislative efforts to protect children. We will continue to use all the resources within our power to call out unscrupulous retailers. If the federal courts won’t stand for parents, then we hope the court of public opinion will.”

What's your take? Is it too much to expect parents to be actively involved in the purchasing decisions of their children?