By Mandi Bierly
Updated February 16, 2007 at 11:45 PM EST

It’s not a new question, but it’s being asked with added urgency now that a report suggesting the FCC should and could regulate TV violence as closely as it does indecency, is believed to be circulating around the organization’s top brass. The report is said to support the claim that violence on television has an impact on children’s real-life behavior, and it supposedly argues that cable channels, as well as the broadcast networks, need proper policing during the hours when kids are most likely to be watching. If the FCC votes to take the report to Congress, you can expect the networks to pipe up (and to hear the phrase “slippery slope” a lot), but for now, they appear to be mum.

In what may not be a coincidence 24‘s creators have announced that they’re cutting back on torture. Executive producer Howard Gordon tells The Philadelphia Inquirer, “What was once an extraordinary or exceptional moment is starting to feel a little trite. The idea of physical coercion or torture is no longer a novelty or surprise. It’s not something that we, as writers, want to use as a crutch. We’d like to find other ways for Jack to get information out of suspects….Our appetite has decreased. Personally, I think the audience may be tiring of it as well. My wife says it’s too much.”

Interesting that 24‘s producers should decide torture is a cliché the same week that the FCC threatens federal oversight of TV violence, not to mention the same week that the show has been targeted by complaints — from both human rights activists and top military brass — that the show’s torture scenes are influencing the behavior of U.S. interrogators. What do you think, PopWatchers? Does this mean TV can be trusted to police itself? If networks promise to tone down violence of their own accord, will that keep the government from intervening? Should the FCC step in anyway? Or Is it solely the parents’ responsibilty to shield their children from violent TV by learning to program their V-chips and blocking shows?

addCredit(“24: Kelsey McNeal“)