LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) – Tim Winter, president of the watchdog Parents Television Council, isn't surprised that four major Hollywood studios are trying to put the popular movie streaming service VidAngel out of business.
From his perspective, the entertainment industry has always opposed family-friendly solutions, going back decades.
"The bullies in Hollywood have won most of the [legal] debates just because of shear intimidation and size, but we're grateful that the owners of VidAngel are standing up to them," Winter told the Christian Examiner.
VidAngel's service allows families to watch mainstream movies without the coarse language, sexuality or violence. Four studios -- Disney, Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century Fox, and Lucasfilm – sued the young company to try and shut it down. That could happen on Oct. 31, when a U.S. district court in California will hear arguments from the studios, who are requesting a preliminary injunction to prevent VidAngel from operating. The studios argue that VidAngel is operating without a streaming license, but VidAngel says current law – specifically, the Family Movie Act – allows it to operate legally without one. A DVD hard copy exists in VidAngel's library for each movie it streams.
Winter, who has served as president of the non-profit PTC since 2007, was among more than two dozen leaders who submitted declarations to the court in September supporting VidAngel. Among the others were:
- Patrick A Trueman, president & CEO, National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
- L. Brent Bozell, president, Media Research Center.
- Bob Waliszewski, director, Focus on the Family's Plugged In.
- Donna Rice Hughes, president, Enough is Enough.
- Gary Bauer, president, American Values.
- Tim Wildmon, president, American Family Association.
- Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide and chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission.
In his declaration, Winter asserted that the entertainment industry, throughout the decades, has opposed multiples efforts to protect families – from FCC enforcement of indecency guidelines in the 1970s, to inclusion of a V-chip in televisions in 1998, to passage of the Family Movie Act in 2005.
"Each and every regulatory effort mentioned above was met with animus and/or fierce opposition from forces in Hollywood," Winter wrote. "...Hollywood's effort to impede in VidAngel's lawful business is consistent with their efforts to similarly impede in every other business or regulatory effort that would allow a viewer's ability to filter out harmful or explicit content."
The public supports services such as VidAngel, said Winter, quoting polls by Rasmussen and Zogby.
"The overwhelming percentage of Americans – even among those who do not have children, and regardless of political stripe, believe there is too much sex, violence and profanity on television and most think that it has a negative impact on children," he told the Christian Examiner. "To say that there is no marketplace for this is absurd."
The Family Movie Act, Winter says, protects VidAngel. Winter rejects arguments by some in the entertainment industry that the filtering of movies infringes on creativity and art.
"Hollywood is more than happy to edit out portions of entertainment products that they themselves don't support or don't like, but they steadfastly refuse to allow the marketplace to edit out things that Hollywood likes," Winter said. "Look no further than the VeggieTales franchise, where all references of God were stripped out of that show when it was put on broadcast television [on NBC]. But when people at home are offered a solution [in VidAngel] to allow them to edit out what they find offensive, the studios join together in a suit and try to prevent it."