The president of the VSDA responds to Sen. Lieberman's challenge.
On Wednesday, the president of the Video Software Dealers' Association (VSDA) issued a rebuttal to Senator Joe Lieberman's 'challenge' to the entertainment industry, restating his belief that mediums of entertainment such as videogames which expose children to violent images should be out of the reach of children. Bo Andersen responded by saying the video gaming industry already does a commendable job keeping these M-rated products away from young children. He had a counterclaim, stating that Lieberman is jeopardizing attempts at voluntary industry ratings. The president's statement was as follows.
"Today Senator Joe Lieberman called on entertainment retailers, including video stores, to take steps to limit children's access to movies and video games that contain depictions of violence. Instead of lumping video stores in as part of the problem, I respectfully suggest that the policies of video stores are part of the solution -- because they provide parents with control over their children's access to violent entertainment.
"The nation's video stores welcome the opportunity to inform Senator Lieberman about their policies regarding "R"-rated movies and "M"-rated videogames, policies that honor parental control over anything else. We believe that there is no better place for parents to control the entertainment to which their children have access than in a video store. Parental empowerment is an integral part of home video retailing. Parental involvement is part and parcel of how video retailers operate their business.
"Retailers do not willy-nilly turn over valuable software to children without specific authority and involvement from their parents. Video stores have long had policies that prevent the rental or sale of "R"-rated movies and "M"-rated videogames to persons under age 17 without parental consent and have a long history of providing customers with information about the movie and video game ratings systems. I am disappointed that the recent Federal Trade Commission report did not draw more attention to video stores' excellent parental empowerment programs. Despite this shortcoming, the FTC study does not support the inference that there is a ratings enforcement problem in video stores.
"Quite the opposite is true. The FTC report portrayed the rental of movies and videogames positively. The FTC acknowledged that "[p]arents have significant controls over the videos their children rent because of limitations established by the major rental outlets" and that rental "requires a degree of parental involvement." VSDA believes these findings are true for the vast majority of chain and independent video retailers, as video stores of all sizes have effective parental empowerment policies. The FTC study has also showed the programs of video stores to be the most effective of any that the FTC examined. The FTC did not identify a single specific instance of a video store renting an R-rated movie or an M-rated game to a person under 17 years of age.
11/2/2000 Bryan Keers