The nation’s lead family television watchdog is concerned that Congress may squander an opportunity to give parents more control over the media their children consume at home as Hollywood interests stand in the way of bipartisan, evangelical-backed legislation to give them the ability to do so.
The Parents Television Council, a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to protecting families from graphic sex, violence and profanity in the media, is pressuring Congress to vote on the Family Movie Act Clarification Act before the current session comes to an end in the coming weeks.
The next three weeks, the watchdog believes, will be the last true opportunity to pass the legislation that would allow parents to use technologies such as VidAngel or ClearPlay to filter graphic and sexual scenes and language from movies and television shows streamed through services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
Although the Family Movie Act of 2005 legalizes such technology for movies and videos played on DVD players, a group of Hollywood movie studios sued in “Hollywood-friendly courts” in Southern California to get a ban on filtering technology from being used on programs streamed over the internet.
“Hollywood studios are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to kill it. They have spent maybe millions of dollars in legal fees by bankrupting companies with legal threats of piracy,” PTC President Tim Winter told The Christian Post on Wednesday. “They claim this is copywriting infringement but they made those same claims with the DVDs and lost there.”
H.R.6816 was introduced by Florida Republican Rep. Mia Love in September following a Ninth Circuit Court ruling in August against an appeal filed by filtering company VidAngel, which shut down in 2016 due to the legal pressure applied by Disney and other studios.
The latest legislation would simply update the 2005 legislation to legalize filtering services on streaming platforms in addition to DVDs. According to Winter, the bill would bring the Family Movie Act “into the 21st Century.”
“We are hoping that Congress, just like they did in 2005 with a bipartisan passing of the bill signed into law by [George W.] Bush 43, we hope there will be bipartisanship here,” Winter said. “We also know that the clock is ticking on this lame-duck session. I am told that Disney and other studios spent huge lobbying trying to kill this bill before it was introduced.”
The bill is strongly supported by the Protect Family Rights Coalition, which is headed by the former CEO of ClearPlay. According to the coalition, H.R. 6816 was introduced by Love after a plea from prominent faith-based leaders, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and James Dobson of Family Talk radio.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith