FCC Promises to Expedite Indecency Investigations

by TChris

Those who want to protect us from vulgar discussions on the radio -- as if we can’t protect ourselves by turning the dial -- continue pressuring the FCC and Congress to do more to police the public airwaves. This article suggests that the FCC (no matter who has headed the agency) has been ineffective in its efforts to impose and collect fines, often cutting deals with broadcasters that prevent “indecency” findings from being used against the broadcaster when the FCC considers renewal of the broadcaster’s license.

The current FCC chair, Kevin Martin, has promised to clean up the backlog of indecency investigations. The larger question is whether the FCC should bother.

[T]he guiding 1978 indecency statute is increasingly irrelevant in an era of 200 unpoliced cable and satellite channels that do not fall under the law. Some groups say the government should no longer monitor the nation's airwaves because technology -- such as the V-chip and cable and satellite blocking systems -- allows parents to determine what their children watch.

Congress became exercised about indecency after Superbowl viewers with sharp eyes caught a brief glimpse of Janet Jackson’s breast, an incident that provoked the House to pass a bill increasing the maximum fines that the FCC can impose and requiring a license-revocation hearing after a broadcaster's third offense. A similar bill hasn’t passed the Senate, and it isn’t likely to suit powerful broadcasters like Fox, which got in trouble for a “television show that featured whipped-cream-covered strippers.” Fox knows that sex sells, and as it competes against cable, it’s likely (as are other broadcasters) to continue offering programming that some might think indecent.

Viewers who don’t want to be exposed to content they find disturbing have an immediate remedy: stop watching (or listening). Change the channel. Spin the dial. Pay attention to what your kids are watching, or better yet, give them a book. The FCC’s ongoing struggle to understand the shifting limits of “decency” isn’t worth the effort.

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    Re: FCC Promises to Expedite Indecency Investigati (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:56 PM EST
    but, it's sooooooooooooo hard to turn the dial, someone needs to do it for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! my sheeple detecto meter just went into high alert!

    Gee...the FCC call-in complaint list: A perfect record of people who don't know how to use the off-switch, or the v-chip.

    Re: FCC Promises to Expedite Indecency Investigati (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:58 PM EST
    99% of the American people have never complained to the FCC. 1% of us are moral zealots who have nothing better to do than write letters and make phone calls constantly to the FCC to complain about nonsense. I wish the FCC would have the decency to let us decide for ourselves what we want to watch and listen to. To the 1%, turn off the tv, turn off the radio, and read the bible.