TV VIOLENCE, BOYCOTTS & REALITY

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We know it's too much to expect, but wouldn't it have been nice if the two nominees for the Federal Communications Commission had told senators at their recent confirmation hearing that the idea of government-sponsored violence ratings of TV programs is hogwash?

But, alas, Democrat Susan Ness and Republican Rachelle Chong were wise enough to know you don't win Senate votes for a nomination by trying to interject reality into the rantings and posturing of politicians.

Ms. Chong, a communications attorney, even said consumer boycotts of advertisers incited by some future set of federal violence monitors would be a good thing. She was referring to pending legislation from Sen. Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.) to require the FCC to publish a list of the most violent TV shows and their sponsors.

We view that inane idea as merely a club to hold over TV programmers' heads until they deal with the violence problem on their own. But Ms. Chong felt obliged to go along with the idea of federal bureaucrats keeping tally on how many times Roadrunner used his mallet on hapless pursuers.

She also called boycotts "a very creative way to look at the problem." We've been watching advertiser boycott efforts from the left and right over the years, and they have, by and large, been dismal failures.

The only boycott that matters is a viewer boycott. Now that they have been confirmed by the Senate, let's hope Ms. Ness and Ms. Chong help fashion an FCC policy that gives access to TV to a wide variety of program providers so that consumers can "boycott" bad shows by turning to good shows.

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