Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft
House Dem Into Ratings Regs by Declan McCullagh
3:00 a.m. Sep. 22, 2000 PDT
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Ed Markey doesn't just hope the Democrats will seize control of the U.S. House of Representatives. He's certain of it.
"I'm only six weeks away from being chairman again," grins Markey, the ranking Democrat on the House telecommunications subcommittee. The panel oversees Internet and consumer privacy issues.
If the Republicans lose their House majority, the partisan shift toward the left is likely to mean more regulation of technology and corporations. And Markey, a 24-year veteran legislator from Massachusetts, already knows just what he wants to do.
"I think there could be a very strong case made for a universal rating system for everything but television," Markey said at a Media Institute luncheon this week.
As for TV, Markey said, the existing rating system should be expanded.
"Every person in this room knows there's a relationship between what kids see on television and what they do," he said. "You can't on the one hand say we're going to have this great digital revolution ... and at the same time we can't give parents the ability to program their set."
A recent poll by USA Today/CNN/Gallup suggests the race for the House will be an unusually close one this year. The GOP currently holds a 13-seat majority, which means that just seven congressional districts hold the balance of power.
Subcommittee chairmen, who are appointed by the House leadership, are powerful creatures. They can convene hearings on controversial topics, forward bills to the House floor for a vote, and block legislation with which they disagree.