WASHINGTON, DC: The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday urged Congress to legislate for restrictions on violent TV programs, arguing that these should be confined to late evening slots when few children would be viewing.

The FCC's long awaited report, requested by Congress nearly three years ago and published yesterday, is skeptical as to the effectiveness of TV content ratings and technological barriers such as the V-chip, designed to protect children from violent or offensive programs.

The commission noted that despite these controls, children continue to be exposed to unsuitable content on a regular basis.

The FCC recommends that lawmakers legislate to limit violence in entertainment programs by empowering it to define such content and restrict it to late evening television.

The body additionally urged Congress to enact new laws to enable consumers - if they so wish - to purchase cable channels à la carte so they can opt out from channels they don't want.

Urges FCC chairman Kevin J Martin: "Steps should be taken to protect children from excessively violent programming. Some might say such action is long overdue. Parents need more tools to protect children from [such] programming."

Perhaps surprisingly, the FCC recommendations are opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union which expressed the view that "government should not parent the parents".

Complains Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington legislative office: "These FCC recommendations are political pandering. The government should not replace parents as decision-makers in America's living rooms.

"There are some things that the government does well. But deciding what is aired and when on television is not one of them."

Predictably, the cable industry agreed with that view.

"Simple sounding solutions, such as à la carte regulation of cable TV packages, are misguided and would endanger cable's high-quality family friendly programming, leaving parents and children with fewer viewing options," opined National Cable & Telecommunications Association spokesman Brian Dietz.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff