An article in today’s Wall Street Journal (registration req’d) outlines the rules major wireless carriers are implementing to manage mobile content.
Verizon not only regulates how much bare skin it considers inoffensive in video, it bans "any derogatory references to Verizon Wireless itself." Honestly. Does Verizon not have confidence in its own business? Is it so concerned that someone bad-talking the company would have a detrimental effect on the business? I’m more concerned with the insecurity of not being able to take criticism than with the criticism itself.
If the article is correct, I’ve already violated the guidelines several times with my text and video messages. Whoopsiedoodle. Good thing those are for personal use only.
Cingular bans violent and sexual content and words like "condom" and "lesbian."
Sprint has yet to develop/publish its content guidelines for commercial providers. In the past, I’ve read that Sprint has said "hey we just provide a platform, we don’t want to get involved in content," while Verizon creates its own content as well as meddles in third-party content.
Will Sprint become known as the carrier to use if you want to read content that might include scary words? Or if you want to watch MTV videos on your cell phone? Or will it decide that becoming the porn fan’s carrier of choice is not a direction it wants to grow?
I suppose I shouldn’t condemn. I pay for a service and if I don’t like its rules I can always change services (for a contract-breaking fee, sigh). I also can’t imagine a circumstance in which I would pay for video on my phone, so perhaps I’m missing something when I recoil at the guidelines.
(And just how much bare skin is allowed for Verizon content providers? Do they express it in absolute pixels, or in a percentage of the body, or a percentage of the screen?)
But I feel strongly that the carriers would do better to create a carrier-approved "kids" service, and maybe a "limited" content service for adults who don’t want to spend time or effort filtering their own media. And then continue to provide a platform for a wide-open "might be explicit" service, and let us buy the content we want.