Federal regulators say that theater owners are doing a much better
job of turning away minors from R-rated movies, a piece of news that
will help bolster the industry's case as lawmakers scrutinize media
The Federal Trade Commission said that in its latest
undercover shopper survey, only 24% of underage moviegoers were able to
buy a ticket to an R-rated feature, a drop from 31% in 2010. It is also
the lowest since the FTC started its "mystery shopper" program in 2000,
as studios came under fire for the way that restricted movies were
marketed to minors.
The part of the industry with the best record
for self enforcement was video games, with 13% of the undercover teens
able to buy M-rated titles. That is unchanged from its last survey in
2010, and may be particularly important as federal and state lawmakers
focus on violence in video games and whether it is a factor in real-life
Also showing improvement were retailers of R-rated and
unrated DVDs, as well as sellers of music CDs with parental advisory
labels. Some 47% of underage shoppers were able to buy such music, the
worst record of all categories, but an improvement from 64% in 2010.
best theater chain for enforcement was AMC Entertainment, which just 5%
of minors slipping through, and the worst at self-policing were Carmike
Theaters and Hollywood Theaters, each above 40%.
The complete results are here.
part of any study is the extent to which minors are able to access
content via streaming, which are usually just a click or two around any
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), chairman
of the Senate Commerce Committee, on Monday hosted a roundtable on video
game violence in Martinsburg, W. Va., with representatives from the
gaming industry, as well as child health experts and reps from Common
While Rockefeller is calling for improved ratings,
he's also determined to launch a comprehensive study on the impact of
video game violence, with legislation in which the National Academy of
Sciences would be tasked to lead such a probe. His bill not only singles
out video games but video programming, a description that could include
the Internet. He seems to be fairly certain that a study will find a
link, telling the roundtable that exposure to such images "damages the
thinking and the instincts and the aggressions of young people."