This is what Shawn Morton would look like if he had been made of LEGO sMoRTy71.com -- the personal website of Shawn Morton
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Friday, March 3, 2006
Parents Television Council & KidZone
Yesterday, I posted about my disappointment in TiVo's "big announcement" of the KidZone feature. I argued that it just wasn't compelling and didn't warrant advanced PR before the announcement.

Well, after reading Thomas Hawk's thoughts on it (he thinks it's a cool feature), I realized that KidZone is worse than I originally thought.

Why? One of the two groups that will be providing guidance to the programming in KidZone is the Parents Television Council. The PTC is a moral watchdog groups that files thousands of complaints (According to the FCC, 20% of all indecency complaints filed with them are from the PTC) to the FCC about what you should be able to watch on television. Of course, they do it in the name of the kids, so they must be OK, right?

No, I don't think it is. There are already federally-mandated tools, like V-chip, that give parents the power to monitor/limit the types of programming that their kids see. And the great thing about V-Chip is that it keeps moral or religious judgments out of it. You, as a parent, have the ability to choose what is appropriate. There are also parental controls built into my DirecTiVo that allow me to layer on more rules/limits on top of the V-chip.

The argument that the PTC likes to make is that V-chip and other technologies aren't used by parents or that they're too complicated, so they need to step in on our behalf. They'll figure out what we should watch and listen to, then they'll lobby the FCC and write complaint letters to advertisers. We don't need to do anything, not even think for ourselves.

And now, with KidZone, it appears that TiVo is trying to cash in on that kind of thinking. As Thomas Hawk points out, being able to tell consumers that they have these great offerings for parents, gives TiVo an advantage in the marketplace. However, aligning yourself with groups like the PTC is not going to win over parents who just want the tools (and not the moral judgments of fundamentalists).

Fortunately, DirecTiVos aren't able to get this new feature. This is one of the few times that the DirecTV-TiVo divorce has worked out in my favor.

About Shawn Morton

Married father of 6; VP of Social Media at JPMorgan Chase; gluten-free; gadget enthusiast; hair metal aficionado; #Movember man View more on LinkedIn.