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Press Release

June 27, 2011


PTC Denounces Supreme Court Ruling on CA Video Game Law

Ruling Puts Video Game Retailers Ahead of Parents


LOS ANGELES (June 27, 2011) – Today, the Supreme Court upended a California law that would hold video game retailers accountable for selling or renting adult games to unaccompanied minor children. The Parents Television Council™ denounced today’s ruling in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, but pledged to continue holding irresponsible video game retailers publicly accountable.

“When an industry trade group files a federal lawsuit to defend a child’s constitutional rights, the alarm bells should be deafening. It is hard to imagine a more cynical proposition. Sadly, today’s ruling proves the United States Supreme Court heard the video game industry loud and clear, but turned a deaf ear to concerned parents. The Court has provided children with a Constitutionally-protected end-run on parental authority,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

“This ruling replaces the authority of parents with the economic interests of the video game industry. With no fear of any consequence for violating the video game industry’s own age restriction guidelines, retailers can now openly, brazenly sell games with unspeakable violence and adult content even to the youngest of children.

“The carefully-worded California statute would not have interfered in any way with the rights of the creators of adult games or the adults who wish to buy them; and in fact, it would not interfere with parents who wanted to purchase such a game for their children. Rather, the measure only would have prevented an unaccompanied minor child from buying or renting the product. 

“Countless independent studies confirm what most parents instinctively know to be true: repeated exposure to violent video games has a harmful and long-term effect on children. Despite these troubling findings, video game manufacturers have fought tooth and nail for the ‘right’ to line their pockets at the expense of America’s children. Today, the Supreme Court sided with them and against parents.  

“We call on the Entertainment Merchants Association to redouble its efforts for increased enforcement of the industry’s age-based vending restrictions. The Federal Trade Commission and the PTC’s own ‘Secret Shopper’ campaigns have routinely demonstrated an abysmal failure rate for video game retailers to uphold the industry’s own age-based restrictions. With the exception of GameStop, many in the video game industry appear to be either unwilling or unable to prevent the sale of M-rated games to kids. Now with no threat of consequence for failure, we are concerned that the self-regulatory efforts will be violated in even greater numbers than they already are. We will be monitoring this very closely.

“The Parents Television Council is proud of its unwavering support for California State Senator Leland Yee’s leadership and legislative efforts to protect children. We will continue to use all the resources within our power to call out unscrupulous retailers. If the federal courts won’t stand for parents, then we hope the court of public opinion will,” Winter concluded. 

To speak with a representative from the Parents Television Council, please contact Megan Franko at (703) 859-5054 or Liz Krieger at (703) 683-5004 ext. 120.

The Parents Television Council™ (www.parentstv.org®) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. This national grassroots organization has more than 1.3 million members across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. The PTC also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.





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