The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is launching an inquiry into the effect excessively violent broadcast TV programming has on children.

WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter)--The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is launching an inquiry into the effect excessively violent broadcast TV programming has on children.

In a letter to House Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, made public last Thursday, FCC chairman Michael Powell said he has directed the FCC's Media Bureau to begin preparing for a "notice of inquiry" into the issue.

"I appreciate the Committee on Energy and Commerce's long-standing work in the important area of children's television programming and share many of the committee's concerns related to the potential effects of violent video programming on children," Powell wrote. "I have directed the commission's Media Bureau to revise its 2004 work schedule and to begin work immediately on a notice of inquiry to solicit public comment and information on the specific issues identified in your letter."

Powell's letter responded to a letter last month in which Barton and 37 other lawmakers asked the FCC to undertake an investigation. It was unclear when the commission would vote on the notice of inquiry, but Powell expected the bureau to forward its suggestions to the commission "in the near future."

A notice of inquiry allows the commission to investigate a matter of interest, but it usually doesn't include any new regulations.