The death of broadcast

The death of broadcast
: Clear Channel has cut off Howard Stern. When Janet Jackson’s outfit opened, it opened a door not on her breast but on censorship. Clear Channel even sent out a press release bragging about cutting off Stern. MarksFriggin, the unofficial Stern site, says those stations are in Pittsburgh, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Rochester, Louisville and San Diego. Clear Channel also fired Bubba the Love Sponge.

: Here’s how I predict this will play out:

– Stern will engineer his firing from Viacom.

– Stern will sign with satellite, giving satellite the boost it needs to become a viable business.

– Buy satellite stock now. Sell radio stock now.

– Broadcast radio will quickly falter, losing attention to MP3s, satellite, and cellular broadcast. Broadcast radio will die. Consolidation won’t kill it. Censorship will.

– Satellite will grow rapidly, getting more consumer revenue and ad revenue.

– Broadcast TV will suffer similar blows.

– Cable and satellite TV will grow.

– The bottom line: Any medium that can be government-regulated will shrink; any medium free of government regulation will grow.

– Government censorship will grow until, at long last, libertarians and Republicans and Democrats wake up and realize that this is not the role they want for government, this is not the America they envision. But in the meantime, they will have destroyed a medium or two.

: And why don’t you tell the FCC what you think. Here’s how.

I don’t need a government nanny, do you? I didn’t think so.

: The more I think about this, the more enraged I get. One tit flopped out and the government — the Bush administration — can’t wait to play to its far-right fringe and censor speech and intimidate speech and chill speech. How dare they? This is not the role we expect of our government. We don’t need a nanny.

Let’s hear a little liberartarian outrage at government meddling in our lives and our speech.

Let’s hear a little conservative outrage at government growing beyond its bounds.

Let’s hear a little liberal outrage at goverment stiffling free spech.

I don’t give a damn whether you like or despise Howard Stern; that’s beside the point. If you’re American, you cherish free speech and you should be appalled at what is happening to it. This is not coming from media consolidation. This is coming from government intimidation.

F Michael Powell. F the FCC. F Clear Channel.

Defend Howard Stern. Or lose your own rights to say what you want where and when you want to say it.

: I know that many constituencies want to tell Clear Channel to f off. Here’s where and how.

: UPDATES… There are calls for me to answer the many comments on this post. I’m traveling today and so I don’t have time to say much until later. But a few basic observations:

– Yes, Clear Channel is a company with the full right and responsibility to decide what to put on its air. But that’s not what’s happening here. The government is behind this. The government called broadcast chieftens to the woodshed and they came back vowing to avoid further government censure. Mel Karmazin of Viacom, owner of Stern’s station, held a conference call threatening to fire DJs, program directors, and general managers who are even the subject of complaint.

The government tried to put a chill on speech. And it worked.

And that should chill you.

– Don’t like Stern? Fine. I understand. Don’t want to defend Stern? Ok, but what happens when they come after somebody you do like. What happens when Bill O’Reilly slips one day and says something that offends someone in a gotcha way and that’s just the excuse somebody needed to demand that he go off the air. Or Andy Rooney. Or Dan Rather. Or Al Franken, once he’s on radio. Doesn’t matter what your political stripe is; it’s all speech and once it can be shut off for one guy it can be shut off for the next.

Defending free speech almost always starts with defending those whose speech you don’t like — but if you don’t defend that speech, then you defend no one’s speech.

When I grew up, the ACLU defended the noxious speech of the KKK to march in the heavily Jewish Chicago suburb of Skokie. It was necessary to defend the principle even with them so as to defend the rights of antiwar protestors or civil rights protesters or, in latter days, abortion protestors to protest.

If you don’t defend Stern agains the government chill, then you open the door for someone you like to be taken off the air.

– Yes, they are public airwaves. That means they belong to me, too. I want to listen to Stern. You don’t. Fine. Change the channel. We have lots of them.

– I abhor this culture of offense. We are becoming ruled by what offends a few of us. If it’s offends somebody, then it must be wrong and it must be shut up.

Well, I don’t need anyone — government or corporate nanny — to protect me from that which might offend me. I can take care of myself and respond myself.

– I have been far, far more offended by things I have heard Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson say on our public airwaves but I have not called for them to be banned, even though they are more disgusting and hateful than Stern has ever been.

– Hiawatha Bray, a good technology reporter for the Boston Globe (his blog here) leaves a comment saying good riddance to Stern. Fine if you feel that way. But what happens when people get offended by something you say, Hiawatha? There’s something bigger happening here and it has an impact on our business, on media, on journalism, on the press. Danger lurks here, colleague.

– See Micah Sifry on Clear Channel. See Adam Curry. See Tony Pierce.

– Have to go. More later….

  • anne.elk

    On the other hand, you ban folks that write the letters “f…” on your site, though you yourself will free write “f’ this guy” and “f’ that guy”, presumably because you don’t want your son reading those words.
    When my daughters surf the web, they surf in our living room where I can supervise them.
    When they go to school or are in someone’s car, I cannot supervise what they listen to or overhear.
    It would seem to me that it seems reasonable for a broadcast media to be sensitive to children in their audience which is in the millions. The people own the airwaves.
    I have asked you before, I will ask you again — would you please clarify your position, it seems illogical.
    Thanks!

  • Me

    Private companies making their own decisions on what they will tolerate from their employees–the horror!

  • http://sullivan40.diaryland.com Sullivan

    Granted, I don’t want the government to be a nanny. That said, Bubba the Love Sponge’s show was awful. I live in Tampa so it was hard to escape him. Killing a pig on the air was amazing stupid and tasteless. You get better media in the NE. Be grateful for it.

  • http://twistedspinster.com/ Andrea Harris

    Agreeing with anne-elk… head imploding…
    Seriously, what does Bush have to do with this? I am looking for the two s**ts Bush gives about Howard Stern — so far, I am not finding them. Also, radio has been government-controlled since Dubya was but a naughty gleam in H.W. and Barbara’s eyes; you can’t very well blame him for not disbanding the FCC, or whatever it is you want him to do in order to make sure you can get your Howard fix if you happen to be in Miami. (All the major Miami radio stations are actually in Ft. Lauderdale, long story, no doubt gummint meddling is at the bottom of it).
    But don’t worry — Clear Channel being a commercial enterprise not a crypto-fascist org in the pay of the Shadow Government will no doubt take into account the shrieks of the legions of Stern fans, and he’ll probably get his show back everywhere in jig time. Personally, I have no beef with the man, I merely find him crass and boring. Not my kind of comedy, or whatever it is called that he does. Also I think it would be better if we “exposed our Children™” to something slightly more high-brow than the ooh-naughty ramblings of Howard Stern and his crew of faux-lesbians and pseudo-yokels, but I think that about a lot of other cultural matters too, and the majority outvotes me.

  • http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/ Captain Ed

    I think you’ve lost sight of the fact that radio and TV broadcasters (as opposed to cable/satellite producers) operate on a public monopoly and have always had a mission to provide a public service. Janet Jackson’s breast flopped out on 200 or so channels that no one else can broadcast on because CBS holds those local frequencies as government-granted monopolies. Since they are government monopolies, and since there’s no other way to allocate frequencies except to one broadcaster at a time, it presents no conflict to me that those private businesses cashing in on government monopolies be required to do so in a manner that serves the vast majority in their broadcast area. In that regard, these private businesses are actually allowed a tremendous amount of leeway; the only restrictions are those of “decency” and not of political message, and even at that only during certain hours of the day.
    To put it another way, CBS and Clear Channel knew the rules before they decided to broadcast the Super Bowl bondage festival with a side order of boob and Howard Stern’s racists callers. While I think that Hogan’s protestations of this one incident on Stern’s show is reminiscent of Casablanca, as I blogged earlier, the stations on which Stern appears belong to Clear Channel and they can decide who will and will not appear. Hypocritical? Sure, but that’s their call.
    Stern and other edgier performers may drift to satellite radio as the FCC decides to enforce the rules that have always been on the books, and that’s not a problem, since that option exists for them. It demonstrates the weakness of the free-speech argument you’re making, though. They’re hardly being silenced — they’re merely making their money from private enterprise rather than cashing in on government-supplied licenses.

  • http://www.photodude.com/ Reid

    “Defend Howard Stern. Or lose your own rights to say what you want where and when you want to say it.”
    Gosh, I didn’t know I had the right to have a syndicated show on Clear Channel. I thought that was … a job. One from which you can be fired.
    I didn’t know Clear Channel was the only forum via which Howard Stern is capable of speaking. Because that would have to be true for this to qualify as censorship, or a squashing of free speech.
    Those who get into radio do so knowing they are entering a business that is government regulated. During the eight years I was in the business, it was far tighter than today. But it was true then, and it’s true today: if you want to spend all your time pushing the edge of the envelope, sometimes you get dumped on the floor.
    Radio has always been a cruel business, one that changes with the whims of the moment. Howard has arguably been more successful at negotiating it than most anyone. But it’s not like this is the first time he’s been fired for the things that come out of his mouth. Nor is it likely to be the last. So I find it very hard to shed a tear for poor oppressed Howard. This is the way he’s job-hopped to salary increases much of his career.

  • semm

    I remember some time ago having a small degree of faith in the FCC with Powell at its head. I recall reading several articles that lead me to bleieve he was in favor of free markets and free ideas. In this Salon article form some time ago:
    http://dir.salon.com/tech/feature/2001/08/06/powell/index.html
    he says “Validate or Eliminate.” Thats the kind of attitude we should have towards all our government agencies and when the guy running one of them said this it made me glad. What the heck happened to him? Did he not mean this when he said it, or did we completely misunderstand what he was saying?
    The FCC is an obnoxious institution, its time is past.

  • markmacg

    “Stern asked Salomon if he engaged in anal sex and referred to the size of his penis. Using a racist term, a caller to the show asked Solomon if he had ever had sex with any famous black women. ”
    The “racist” term by the way was the “nigger”….
    you are happy about this kind of “speech” on public airwaves? Please explain why this is acceptable, I cannot wait. Plus, it was a private company that pulled Stern NOT the Government.

  • http://www.ranckandfile.com Clay Ranck

    - The bottom line: Any medium that can be government-regulated will shrink; any medium free of government regulation will grow.
    The pioneer spirit lives on in the USA.
    And on your outrage, Jeff, while I would agree that people should watch these kinds of developments carefully, the airwaves are a public asset. The government, liberal or conservative, will always seek control over that which they have domain. That is why we (the people) have to take things away from them. It is inevitable that this would happen, so rather than getting angry at the gov’t for doing what gov’ts do, we should embrace the rise of new technology…
    Technology is dead. Long live technology!

  • L

    Oh yes, I forgot the fifth branch of government, ClearChannel. How stupid of me.
    No, seriously. Government got way too big way too long ago. It happened about the same time some senator realized that doing the things that are required and allowed by the Constitution are a) inordinately difficult, b) largely unglamorous, and c) not likely to get you and your sweet pompadour on the teevee.
    At about that time, that same person realized it would be much easier to stretch the meaning of “interstate commerce” to mean any damn thing he wanted it to, and away government went, doing the easiest, most demagogue-able, vainglorious, meddling stupid-ass bullshit.
    To be fair, I can see an argument for the FCC regulating frequencies to provide uniformity, but leaving content alone, altogether. But, again, that’s very unsexy.

  • http://www.coldfury.com/Sasha/ Al Maviva

    Gee Jeff. Your post is flat out hysterical.
    No, I don’t mean a laughing matter. What I mean, is get a freaking grip.
    Your right to watch naked titties ends at everyone else’s cornea. And when it comes to network TV, in daylight hours, that’s a lot of corneas that you can offend. You want nudity, porn, shock stuff – just get HBO or Skinemax, watch it after 10 PM. You want hardcore? Gee, I dunno, turn on your computer. Maybe buy some from the local 7-11. You want dog-on-dwarf-wearing-a-dress action? Get a sattelite dish, or go to your neighborhood Smut Hut. Or do it in your own house. Or at a local private club.
    But please, take off the “world is coming to an end” sandwich board, and get hold of yourself man. Freakouts are not your style.

  • Catherine

    Wow, I agree with Ann.Elk! What is the world coming too! AAAAAAHHHHHAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! :)
    Jeff have censored your posters before due to bad language because you explain, your son might read it. Yet Clear Channels can’t fire who they want?
    JEFF! I HAVE NEWS FOR YOU! I CAN BE FIRED FOR BEING SEXUALLY EXPLICIT AT WORK! ARE YOU SHOCKED?
    Yet it’s aaaaallll about Bush and his nanny government? Are you a an IDIOT? Why do radio disc jockeys get to live by different rules than me?
    Stern was all pissed off the other day because a caller was censored for being explicit about how he almost killed a woman he was having sex with and he was pissed off because the details were lost by “Dead Air Dave’s” censor button.
    Well NEWS TO YOU AND HOWARD. First of all, my freedom will not be infringed upon because I didn’t get to hear a supposed tale of attempted murder/rough sex gone bad.
    Second, this is how the rest of us live. You sign a code of conduct when you enter a workplace saying you will behave in the following manner. This is how the rest of us live, thanks to NANNY Democrats who believe every little thing I might say or do infringes on someone elses CIVIL rights.
    GOD it really pisses me off that AGAIN Jeff, you don’t see the forest through the trees. IT’S THE LIBERALS WHO HAVE DECIDED THAT WE ALL NEED MOMMIES YOU IDIOT!! I can’t ride a Harley drive my car with out getting a ticket for not wearing a helmut or putting on a safety belt yet YOU think my FREEDOM is infringed because STERN CAN”T TALK ABOUT SEX ON THE AIRWAVES???
    This is why you will lose the White House again. Complete and TOTAL disconnect between your world of utopia and the world the rest of us live in. Manhattan, and…the rest of America.
    You IDIOT!

  • David R. Block

    Stern syndicated by Viacom (CBS)?? Then why isn’t he on Viacom/Infinity stations? That’s the situation in Dallas.
    Viacom and Clear Channel don’t like each other much any way. And I don’t really see what Bush has to do with Clear Channel’s decision making.

  • http://www.two--four.net/weblog.php Billy Beck

    In 1970, I watched the very first “hate-radio” station I ever heard closed down because the FCC would not renew its license. KTRG-FM (Honolulu) was 24-hour talk, and up-to-here with radical libertarians and Objectivists, you see. Didn’t fit someone’s sensibilities, and they got the chop.
    You know what? I get bloody sick & tired of people moaning about “rights to say what you want where and when you want to say it” like they just woke up from a bad dream. This shit’s been going on as long as I’ve been alive. In all my life (I’m 47 years old), there never has been “rights to say what you want where and when you want to say it”, and anyone who thinks differently is a bloody twit who just hasn’t been paying attention.
    Here’s the point: if you think “defend[ing] Howard Stern” is going to turn this thing around, you’re just nuts.
    April’s coming, though. Do make sure you send a check to Washington to pay for this goddamned fraud, and don’t forget to go line up and vote.
    Good luck.
    (sheesh)

  • TaylorHQ

    I’m usually in agreement with Jeff, but this is certainly his most oblivous post ever. Also kind of dishonest. “One tit flopped out,” Jeff? Nope, a woman’s breast was displayed in a careful (and choreographed) move during a very popular national broadcast, as part of a calculated bid for publicity. If you can’t be honest about what motivates your outrage, then maybe your outrage is false and manufactured…as many others here have already made clear.

  • Jeremy

    The government wants to ban gay marriage, Andrew Sullivan gets Hysterical. Clear Channel takes Howard Stern off the air in some markets, Jeff Jarvis gets hysterical.
    I can at least understand why Andrew Sullivan is upset, but this leaves me baffled.
    My favorite DJ was fired from his radio station for playing a Weird Al Yankovich song (I think as part of a listener request). I just stopped listening to that radio station.
    Anyway, you’re right about the solution. Howard Stern and all the shock jocks should go to satelite radio. Or a station willing to put up with the fine, or one that would slot him in his proper slot, which would be late night (where the rules are relaxed).
    Also, remember which President was the one that came up with the “V-chip”. (Hint, not Bush.)

  • http://www.shanksvillememorial.com furious

    Jeff, Jeff, Jeff…
    …I thought you, of all people, would know that a private concern can’t censor anyone, only the government can. Howard Stern is free to make an *ss of himself on his Cable show, or to contract himself to another network like Westwood One.
    Just as ClearChannel is within their rights to contract with or drop whom they will. Their audience will reward or punish them for exercising those rights.
    Given how Talk Radio has invigorated the AM Band, I’d bet on Clear Channel. And pardon me if I don’t take your stock tip, but I learned from the Bubble not to rely on website touts.
    Cheers,
    Furious

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    Jeff, are you sure that Bush is the rightful target of your ire? Just looking through the Google News, it looks like John Dingell (D-18th Century) was instrumental in the hearings, and that he and Upton (R-Mars) were pretty well unified on smacking Michael Powell around. Maybe you should be pissed off at Congress? Or the State of Michegan (something I’d get right behind on general principles.)
    It seems to me was Tipper Gore and Joe Lieberman who were fussing about this the last time. What’s poor George W got to do with it?
    You’ve got it right, though, on another point:

    - The bottom line: Any medium that can be government-regulated will shrink; any medium free of government regulation will grow.

    The fact is that people want to see titties and hear racy dialogue, even from someone like Howard. Like othher kinds of prohibition, the people will find a way to get what they want, government or no.

  • http://beggingtodiffer.com BTD Hei Lun

    I blame Imus.

  • http://www.monitortan.com Hiawatha Bray

    No more Howard Stern? Works for me. The guy’s scum. First time I ever heard him he was talking about how black people are like monkeys. I’m appalled they left him on the air this long.
    When some rightwing shock jock a few years back learned that a plane carrying Clinton’s secretary of commerce Ron Brown had crashed, he expressed hope that the man had died. Alas, he did. But the creep was summarily fired. And rightly so. Does that make me a fan of censorship? Again, it works for me. Some things have no business on radio.

  • Shark

    You know, I don’t know why the Bush admin. is singled out for crap here, as any Stern listener knows that he’s had plenty of trouble with the FCC in earlier administrations. The fact of the matter is this: at one point, he was fined so much, that if he wasn’t making tons of $$$ for infinity, he would’ve met the fate of Bubba the Love Sponge earlier. So this is nothing new.
    Now, yeah, I don’t like censorship and I think the FCC is laying it on too damn thick, but you know what? I’m laughing my ass off watching these guys sweat a little. They couldn’t be be bothered to exercise even a little restraint, now they’re going to be forced to.
    They screwed themselves….

  • Maynard

    Excuse me but exactly where did this come from?
    “One tit flopped out and the government — the Bush administration — can’t wait to play to its far-right fringe and censor speech and intimidate speech and chill speech. How dare they?”
    Wuh? Hear that? It’s the BLACK HELICOPTERS! Quick! Get your tin foil hat on and run for Canada! Jeez Jarvis, I used to read you because I liked your stuff but this? What a load of crap.
    Listen, I’m no prude. I like spending the odd night out at the titty bars, I enjoy really blue comedy and I think Stern is a genius (when his show is about lesbians) – heck, I’m a knuckle dragging primate, I admit it. But this isn’t about Bush playing to the far-right fringe or censorship. It’s about people like me – guys that would vote for Lieberman or Edwards over Bush in a heartbeat, guys that like to cut loose and enjoy getting a little wild but also realize that society is getting coarser and less civil and we look at this crap – but shots and tits popping out during prime time – and we say enough is enough. Someone has to start drawing the line and thank God Clear Channel finally did so. Stern moves to Satellite radio? Then I’ll have to learn to listen to something else or get satellite radio. Censorship? Hardly. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s censorship – heck, it doesn’t even make it wrong.
    Now if you think we’re all over-reacting to this I want you to ask yourself – would you complain if a prime time show your son was watching showed a man waving his genitals at the camera? Because it’s not that far off. We have to defend Stern or loose the First Amendment? What a load of stinking FUCKING HORSE SHIT. Oh, and don’t edit that because it’s my 1st amendment right to express my FUCKING opinion. Censor me and your just as bad as Bush. Unless of course you are a hypocrite, then censor away.

  • Paul Engel

    There is a place and time for everything.
    Don’t know if you have kids or not, but at their eleventh birthday party, your logic would lead yourself to invite strippers and lap dancers for the girls to watch and then practice and for the boys to enjoy – or maybe a little show of gay sex – so that they could all learn to be adults. If you haven’t or won’t then you’re a hypocrite.
    A good stripper is a good stripper. An amateur undresser is a lousy, forlorn act.

  • Johnathan Reale

    “Me” jokes. But why would this private company choose to make _this_ decision? Is their new found enthusiasm for enforcing a standard of behavior a policy designed to serve its customers or the government? I’m sick over this.

  • Brian Ellenberger

    What Jarvis doesn’t get is that the public airwaves do *not* belong to companies, they belong to the American public. That is why the FCC gets to regulate them. The FCC are the stewards of this public resource, just as the forestry service are stewards of the public forests.
    Because of this, the public gets to decide what stays and what goes—even if they never listen to the broadcast! Much like the public gets a say in how the Arctic Wildlife Refuge gets used even though 99.999% of Americans will never go within 500 miles of it. If you don’t like it, tough. Go to satellite, go to cable. That is why they are there.
    It would be censorship if the FCC started regulating HBO or the Playboy channel.

  • Greg in Georgia

    Jeff –
    Your posters in this thread have posed some very good questions. I know I am not the only one interested in hearing your answers. So when you get the time, please weigh in. Thanks.

  • Marc

    radio and TV broadcasters (as opposed to cable/satellite producers) operate on a public monopoly and have always had a mission to provide a public service
    You know, I’ve frequently wondered why the same argument isn’t applied to XM radio and DirecTV. Both are on radio waves flowing through your body this very moment! Nobody else can use those frequencies, nationwide (and beyond as well) yet DirecTV has several 24hr channels of hardcore porn and XM has channels of as blatent shows as you could want.
    The only real difference between DirecTV and ABC/CBS/NBC is that the latter are monitored by the gov’t. They both license their frequencies from the FCC, yet DirecTV does not receive fines for bare breasts. Ditto XM/FM.

  • http://myblahg.blogspot.com Robert McClelland

    You know, Jeff, just when I was beginning to think that you are nothing more than another failed dittohead blogger you come up with a post like this and redeem yourself. Great work on this post. It has challenged the establishment with an opinion that they don’t want to hear and has left them frothing.

  • carter

    Clear Channel’s reaction vis a vis Howard Stern is the response of the marketplace.
    You got a problem with that?

  • shark

    Um…the difference with XM and DirecTV is that you’re making a choice to pay for them….and that is a BIG difference

  • Catherine

    Yeah, I would like to hear Jeff’s comments, but I have noticed recently he makes statements (about Bush, Bush and Mel Gibson) and then feels he doesn’t have to support them. Or typical, he will get personal.

  • Trump

    Can someone please tell me what part of “responsible broadcasting” would apply to deliberately showing Janet Jackson’s boob?

  • C Bennett

    I, too, am interested in how you can get so irate over Howard Stern’s program being dropped by a private company — and blaming it on the Bush administration.
    You have a temper problem, I think. Normally, you make quite a lot of sense. But something like this sets you off and you start raging at Amerika, the ‘nanny government,’ the Whitehouse. Get a grip — it’s Howard Stern. You like him — great. Most adults find him to be just what Clear Channel said he was: vulgar, insulting, and he quit being funny about 5 years ago. It’s a hit show for shy or elderly voyeurs — “take your blouse of now,” “do you do this in the bathroom?” classic stuff.
    But you see it as an assault on freedom to have a company say they won’t run it. What were you going to tell Clear Channel?
    You’re normally so good but when it’s your ox that gets gored, you become a scold, a moralist, a preacher and you lose your temper. I love this site but when I saw Stern was shut off some stations, I hoped for something more than this.

  • Catherine

    Yeah Robert Mc! Anti-establishment Jeff! Yeah! And no more Vietnam! Woo! Yeah! You go!
    Robert, he is part of the establishment. That’s something that Jeff and you will never acknowledge.

  • Jeff B.

    I would also be interested in hearing a response to some of the many excellent points made in this thread, Jeff.

  • John Thacker

    Oddly, the particular action of investigating the Janet Jackson incident was a 5-0 action by the FCC, which consists of 5 independent comissioners, 3 Republican and 2 Democratic right now (since we have a Republican President). The investigation was hardly a Republican thing, and the 5-0 vote clearly indicates that it would have happened under any Democratic President as well.
    Exactly why this means that the Bush Administration doing it isn’t clear. Jeff’s never been particularly clear on how the government functions, though; apparently he thinks that it’s all the whim of the president.

  • Lawrence Cardon

    I don’t remember your juices flowing when Michael Savage got the boot from MSNBC for his remarks to a homosexual caller — and he said nothing more vulgar than Stern says almost daily.
    Stern makes his living being ahead of the curve. There is higher risk and higher reward.
    I detest the dishonesty of people like Stern and Flynt and now you who make much of the ‘we’re out there, we’re pushing the envelope’ but when something adverse occurs, blames it on the government or nannies or the Whitehouse.
    Hey, if being edgy means anything, it means this can happen. Don’t brag about it when it doesn’t and then whine about it when it does.
    What a bunch of “holier than thou” thunderbolt slingers you guys are — if we don’t like your kind of humor, well, BOOM: we’re against freedom, we’re killing free broadcast and the voice of the individual, and …
    What a pompous post — could you possibly get on any higher ground?

  • Joe

    It is interesting to see so many claim that Clear Channel is not the government, but a private entity, and that this firing is somehow a reaction to the market. Has anyone noticed that there were hearings over Janet’s booby flash? Did they notice that many of our representatives threatened revocation of licenses if the industry did not clean up its act? This firing (or suspension) is directly related to the threats and actions of the government and not the market. This is a form of censorship. Now, claiming these are public airwaves and the action is justifiable a good point. My own view is that the millions of individuals that listen to Howard represent the public opinion and justify his actions on radio. A good argument can be made the other way. There really is no argument that the government didn’t cause this firing (I mean suspension).

  • shark

    Defend Howard Stern. Or lose your own rights to say what you want where and when you want to say it
    The funniest part of this whole thing will be to listen to Stern tearing Clear Channel a new hole tomorrow. He’s already been tearing the FCC a new one…BUT:
    Defend Howard Stern. Or lose your own rights to say what you want where and when you want to say it
    Ironic isn’t it? Stern laughed himself silly on the air when he heard the Bubba the Love Sponge firing. He crowed when Opie and Anthony were fired for their sex in a church stunt. He routinely tap dances on the radio graves of other broadcasters.
    Defend Stern? No, I prefer to see him fight this one on his own, without help from his girlfriend Mel Karmazin…

  • Richard Heddleson

    Whoa! Looks like 33-2 the wrong way. Might be time for some permission marketing. Blogs aren’t a push medium.

  • Lee

    Stern is offensive and I am not surprised he got fired. If he worked for me I would have canned his ass long ago. But blaming Bush for this makes as much sense as the Europeans blaming him for the weather.
    Is it the election year, does it make reasonable people like Jeff go stupid? I mean first we hear that it is ok for Democrats to oppose gay marriage but when Republicans do it is all part of that right wing agenda and now people are getting in trouble for beng deliberately offensive under circumstances when and where they know full well they have limits and we are hearing about nanny governments.
    Jeff, grow up.

  • Marc

    Um…the difference with XM and DirecTV is that you’re making a choice to pay for them….and that is a BIG difference
    Wait wait, choosing to listen/watch to something that you have to pay for is different from choosing to listen/watch something you don’t have to pay for? (Other than the clearly obvious monthly bill)

  • http://myblahg.blogspot.com Robert McClelland

    >Robert, he is part of the establishment. That’s something that Jeff and you will never acknowledge.
    I can’t speak for Jeff, but I certainly don’t claim to be outside the establishment. However, I can claim to not being a slave to it. I can also say, with this post Jeff has shown he is not a slave to it either.

  • http://www.thebigdog.cjb.net Big Dog

    Marc:
    Yes.

  • Anonymous

    Government censorship will grow until, at long last, libertarians and Republicans and Democrats wake up and realize that this is not the role they want for government, this is not the America they envision. But in the meantime, they will have destroyed a medium or two.
    Are you out of your f-ing mind? Dude watch some Nick at Night from the 70’s and 80’s then turn over to Fox in primetime. You were a TV CRITIC?!?! and you think there is MORE censorship now? Wow….
    Bubba said the word “a–hole” in morning drive at least 20 times per show, daily (I live in the market). Oops I used a curse word on your blog let me go back and edit….ok that’s better, would hate to have your son read that. He pushed the envelope well beyond where it was in this market from when he first took a mic on 93.3 in the post-afternoon drive slot back when his “no panty thursdays” and talking about “letting your chia run wild” were raising eyebrows. Since then we progressed to sh*t and a–hole over the airwaves on a daily basis, plus castrated pigs on air and anal sex talk. And you think there is more censorship?!?!?!? Again…wow….

  • Marc

    Well that was enlightening. Oh wait, no it wasn’t.

  • John

    Clear Channel still has a financial stake (albeit smaller than before) in XM Radio, but as others have said, since you’re paying $10 a month for the service, and since they already have music and talk channels with R-rated language, I don’t think CC would have any objections to XM fighting it out with Sirius over Stern’s services (and since Sirius reportedly is going to sign Howard’s bete noirs, Opie and Anthony when their Infinity contract expires, he might choose not to be on the same satellite station with them).
    On the other hand, having the freedom on satellite radio to drop the f-bomb or say anything else without fear of reprisal may take some of the edge off of actually doing that in the first place. If you can say anything you want, then after the novelty wears off, doing stuff like that no longer has the shock value of entertainment some people get from Stern and other shows like his. How that affects satellite radio we may find out if O&A start broadcast there by this fall.

  • anne.elk

    Sigh, I feel compelled to comment, screw Clear Channel and screw George Bush, and go Howard Stern. Clear Channel is doing this to suck up to Bush and to get friendlier radio allocations out of Michael Powell. It is the same old same old corrupt cronyism we’ve come to grow and love from the Chimp. Throw the SOB out, the sooner the better.
    And while Clear Channel censors their own employee, they let, they encourage thousands of hate radio jocks to do their hate schtick all in the name of selling commercials. That’s despicable. That’s far worse porn and pandering than anything coming from Howard.
    I would rather my children listen to Howard Stern and Robin Quivers than listen to the hate radio jocks on KFYI or the Disney hate radio jocks on KSFO or Michael Savage.
    My point and question stands — Jeff’s logic is internally inconsistent, and while this is no surprise to me, I am hopeful though, that he will surprise me and show me the consistency that I do not see.

  • http://www.mpturner.net Scaramonga

    Per your request, I emailed Clear Channel and the FCC to praise them for cleaning up the airways. Makes me proud that Clear Channel acted without government intervention and that the FCC only had to indicate that they weren’t going to stand by and let the slime merchants continue pumping their trash out over America’s airways. Thanks for the links, it made it really easy for me to do.

  • Johnathan Reale

    Jeff seems a little short on friends here, so I’ll comment a second time. To all the folks who saying that ClearChannel can’t censor Howard because ClearChannel not the government, I agree. They are just a company making a business decision given the current climate. But there is a difference between living in a world where a company’s aim is to please their paying customers, and one where the aim is to avoid attracting the arbitrary wrath of a capricious government agency. ClearChannel is muzzling Stern because the FCC is acting like a paranoid-schizo off his meds with a loaded gun, likely to fire in the direction of the first loud noise he hears. You may enjoy the ensuing quiet, at least until you feel the need to clear _your_ throat.
    To those of you who say Howard’s form of expression is not worth protecting, or is too dangerous for children, enjoy your trip down the slippery slope. First they came for Stern… Seriously, it must be nice to feel that the government will always be on your side, protecting your interests. Go ahead then, give them all the power they can handle, I’m sure they’ll prove to be tractable servants and wonderful masters.
    Jeff, you are right on the money with this one. Maybe these naysayers won’t think you’re Chicken Little when the roof collapses on top of them. But I’ll have to hear about it on XM radio. Anyhow, someone out here agrees with you.

  • thomas

    Golly, how startling and atrocious. A company makes a decision about the content it will be associated with. How unAmerican and blah blah blah.
    Give me a break. Clear Channel has the right to decline to broadcast Howard Stern, presuming it’s not violating its private contract with Stern himself. For the rest of us, basically, it’s none of our business.
    I have a feeling if I sat here and decided to spit out a litany of racial epithets on this thread, or say horrible, inappropriate things about Jeff Jarvis’ mother, that my post may very well be vanquished. Wonder if such an action (and, yes, I’m aware this is potentially a strawman) would make Jarvis rethink the self-righteousness of his initial post.

  • Bert

    umm…longtime reader,(in blog years) first time commenting.
    i wouldn’t be surprised if clear channel had other motives. How well was Stern doing in those markets? Is there somebody else they have earmarked to syndicate in that time slot, and now have a motive to do so? I am sure Howard will milk this for what is worth, and that his ratings will actually go up. Moreover other stations in those markets will glady take the show.
    As for the boob shot, personally I was more offended by the quality of the show, but it really wasn’t the time or the place. I really shouldn’t have to worry whether a football game is “age appropriate” for my kids.

  • http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/ Captain Ed

    No, Marc, the difference is in the delivery system. If you wanted to start your own cable channel, all you’d need is the start-up capital, some programming, and you could sign distribution deals with DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast, and whoever else wanted to buy your output. You’d bounce it to a private satellite transponder (paying a fee for the service) and your distributors would allocate bandwidth on their delivery system. The ability to create new business is limited only by capital and satellite bandwidth, which can be easily expanded to meet demand.
    For public broadcasting, however, only one station can use a television or radio frequency at a time. I cannot set up my own TV station in the Twin Cities and start broadcasting on channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, or 11 (or any in between) because my signal would interfere with the licensees already broadcasting in my area. The government keeps me off the air; the broadcast license is a necessary monopoly because of this. No amount of capital I could raise will allow me to broadcast my own programming on channel 4 here. That’s the difference. And since licenses are government monopolies, it’s not unreasonable for the government to regulate the content to make sure it serves the vast majority of the public.

  • Tim

    Go Jeff. Thank goodness technology is on our side.
    What a week:
    – Bush comes out for banning gay marriage in the Constitution
    – Passion of the Christ opens to big box office
    – Howard Stern censored
    Somebody rent me “The Handmaid’s Tale”!

  • http://www.sidesalad.net Jeff

    The “public” nature of the airwaves is a compelling argument, since it is the goverment’s responsibility to police the airwaves they grant. The FCC was created in 1934 to do just that – and to make sure that ownership was not concentrated in the hands of too few media conglomerates.
    As the FCC has allowed Clear Channel to grow, it’s responsibility to monitor the company’s content is even more important.
    My ability to listen to radio broadcasts that I deem are fit for my family has shrunk dramatically, at a time when I am asked to pay for the monitoring as an American taxpayer – and thus as a co-owner of those airwaves.
    I spend half my morning jumping from station to station, dodging sexual innuendo, a growing use of mild expletives and inappropriate discussions. Even the content I used to trust on NPR in the mornings has grown increasingly more bold.
    If the FCC isn’t the correct body to step in and set a standard, who is? And for the record, Howard Stern was fined plenty by the FCC when it was run under more liberal administrations. This isn’t Stern’s first offense.

  • http://benedictionblogson.com Bene Diction

    Mr. Jarvis:
    I honestly don’t understand.
    I’m bound by CRTC rules and would use a delay button in a talk show.
    If an owner fires on air talent, how is that censorship?

  • Buffalo Bill

    “When Janet Jackson’s outfit opened, it opened a door not on her breast but on censorship.”
    What it did was highlight the crassness and crudeness of the entire halftime show, which was NOT the proper venue for that kind of vulgar “entertainment.” The industry sandbagged the public on this one.
    And some of the above commentors already pointed out that the companies in question are NOT government entities. I would suppose that they are catering as much to public sentiment as acting in anticipation of governmental action. What’s the matter? Don’t they have that right?
    The more we hear the cries of “free speech” the less imaginative and innovative the so-called “art” is.

  • Timothy Lang

    anne.elk wrote:
    It would seem to me that it seems reasonable for a broadcast media to be sensitive to children in their audience which is in the millions. The people own the airwaves.
    anne.elk, and many of the other posters are spot-on here:
    From the FCC website(http://www.fcc.gov/mb/audio/decdoc/public_and_broadcasting.html):
    We expect stations to be aware of the important problems or issues in their communities and to foster public understanding by presenting some programs and/or announcements about local issues. However, broadcasters — not the FCC or any other government agency — are responsible for selecting all the material they air. The Communications Act prohibits us from censoring broadcast matter and, therefore, our role in overseeing the content of programming is very limited. We are authorized to fine a station or revoke its license if it has, among other things, aired obscene language, broadcast indecent language when children are likely to be in the audience, broadcast some types of lottery information, or solicited money under false pretenses.
    Broadcast television stations and other types of TV channels (such as cable TV) are very different. Cable TV channels are available only by subscription and cannot be received over the air, and they are subject to different FCC rules than broadcast stations.

    Obscenity and Indecency. Federal law prohibits the broadcasting of obscene programming and regulates the broadcasting of “indecent” language.
    Obscene speech is not protected by the First Amendment and cannot be broadcast at any time. To be obscene, material must have all three of the following characteristics:
    an average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
    the material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and
    the material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
    Indecent speech is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be outlawed. However, the courts have upheld Congress’s prohibition of the broadcast of indecent speech during times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience. Broadcasts that fall within the definition of indecency and that are aired between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. are subject to indecency enforcement action by the FCC. Indecent speech is defined as “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.”
    Profanity that does not fall under one of the above two categories is fully protected by the First Amendment and cannot be regulated.
    Please note that broadcasters decide what to air, not the government. And of course, it was Clear Channel’s decision to quit airing Stern, not the FCC, so censorship is most definitely the wrong word. And note that the FCC is following congressional and court (courtly? courtesan?) guidelines in it’s oversite of the airways.
    If your point is that media companies are getting too too big, I agree. It’s a shame a company like Clear Channel effectively killed local radio. But then, if we still had local radio, we wouldn’t have Stern in hundreds of markets, would we? If your point is the airwaves don’t need regulation, you are dead wrong. Without regulation it would be “the most watts rule.”
    Jeff wrote:
    - Buy satellite stock now. Sell radio stock now.
    No, buy into what the folks really want, invest in internet porn companies! :)
    : I know that many constituencies want to tell Clear Channel to f off. Here’s where and how.
    Jeff, it’s much easier than that. You either hit the power switch or turn the dial (dial…uh, hit the “search” button for those not born before say, 1984).

  • lindenen

    I’m not far right fringe and neither are any of my friends so if we want to watch titties flopping in the wind we’ll rent a porno or watch MTV. I don’t think millions of people who’d just like to watch tv minus titties or listen to the radio without expletives should be forced to cater to your whims. If you want expletives and boobies then you, like most people, would quite logically I might add, not look to the public radio or a family tv event for boobs and the n-word.
    In other words, boo fucking hoo. Little Jeffy doesn’t get what he wants when he wants it. Please. Suck my left one.

  • lindenen

    Or, let’s put it another way. Public radio and tv are bound by the law to adhere to certain standards of decency because of who the audience is. When you published Entertainment Weekly, you had a specific audience you were trying to reach in mind. I assume that audience did not include people who wanted descriptions of men almost killing someone during sex or completely naked pictures of women. If some of your employees were continuously putting porn into the magazine or printing the n-word, how long would you have kept them as employees? And if you fired them, would this be censorship or your right?

  • http://karchner.com/update Ross M Karchner

    I’m pretty much with Jeff here, except for the pessimism.
    Let it happen.
    Let broadcast become irrelevant.

  • http://www.willcate.com/weblog Will Cate

    Censorship? Far from it.
    As a long-time radio guy, take it from me: You are completely wrong in your “death of broadcast” rant. There are plenty of broadcasters who do not need to resort to X-rated humor to be successful. Congrats to Infinity and Clear Channel for taking action to clean up their programming, and if they felt a little pressure from the FCC to do so, good for the FCC.
    As regards censorship, you apparently do not understand the 1st Amendment as well as you think you do. Much as freedom of speech does not mean you have the right to yell “Fire” in a crowded theatre, likewise it does not mean Howard Stern has the right to say “Did you give it to her in the butt?” on morning radio.

  • Skeej

    Jeff,
    I was interested in your blog for awhile there. It looks like someone with a tinfoil hat from DU took over here.
    With lots of choices, I have to be discriminating about my reading time.
    There’s no value in reading stuff that I find illogical and completely off the wall.
    Any more like this and I probably won’t be back.
    Censorship?
    Nahhh. Just a preference.
    My right, y’know?

  • Marc

    For public broadcasting, however, only one station can use a television or radio frequency at a time.
    Nobody but DirecTV can use DirecTV’s radio frequencies. Nobody but NBC can use NBC’s radio frequencies. This “difference” is without distinction.

  • http://www.alarmingnews.com Kashei

    Wow. Just wow. The FMA hit that hard, huh?

  • http://attilathepundit.com Eric Stone

    Yes, and back when the movie industry imposed fines for swearing, there was no freedom of speech, and American movie studios couldn’t produce any movies worth watching.
    Calm down, please. There are plenty of easily accessible alternate channels through which people can hear all the swearing and crudity they want, and see more of Janet Jackson’s nipple than they want.

  • opstock

    The public airwaves only belong to the public because the government stepped in and took control of them back when radio was first getting started- unnecessarily, of course.
    Nobody is being forced to listen to any radio station or watch any t.v. program. If you don’t like Howard Stern, then don’t listen to him.
    The problem here is that the people who love howards show in those clearchannel cities are being deprived of a product they want, and support, because of pressure by the “nanny” state put on broadcast media companies to censor.
    No one is saying Clearchannel doesn’t have the right to do what they want with their company. The question is is this a business decision based on low ratings or some other purely business reason, or is this a decision based on a business simply giving in to “big daddy” government coersion. The answer to that question is an important one, even if you disapprove of these shows. Just because you don’t like the content of some of these shows, and therefore don’t mind the end results, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned about the means.
    What really cracks me up is how anyone can say there is a difference between a broadcast signal, and a cable or satellite signal. What? just because one comes through a wire it can have almost any content it wants, but one that travels through the air for a little ways must be censored. Better yet, one that travels through the air but goes into space for a bit can have freedom of content, but the one that travels from the nearest broadcast antenna must be censored. The mind-boggling hypocracy is almost laughable.
    Bush, and the rest of the politburo are just playing the same game all politicians play- use an issue that’s hot in the public debate, and act like your doing something of the utmost importance to protect the people concerned. You know, hold some congressional hearings, berate some top execs, threaten with some laws and/or regulations, take away a few more of our liberties and freedoms to please some upset constituents, wait for the next hot issue/debate and do it all over again.

  • gerrymander

    Johnathan Reale,
    Remember that the FCC investigation and subsequent clampdowns on performances came in response to a groundswell of viewer outcry, not at the vanguard. The Jackson/Timberlake performance crossed a line, one which comes close to what most people recognize as a crime. (If you don’t believe me, try defending the hiring a stripper for grade-school age kids on free expression grounds. “It’s just a boob” won’t get you very far.) Now the various powers-that-be are taking pains to backpedal from it.
    While the FCC is probably getting heat from above in an election year, ClearChannel still only has it’s capitalist interests at heart. They don’t want unwanted attention or a loss of viewer-/listenership in a still-shaky economy.

  • http://tvh.rjwest.com HH

    Stern getting banned is an offense to free speech in an America absolutely… but radio isn’t about to go down the toilet here, please. The moment the Democrats threaten to take down Limbaugh, then you’ll see a threat to the end of radio. Stern’s followers are like an anthill compared to the “Dittoheads.”

  • http://www.thefatguy.com Scott Chaffin

    But there is a difference between living in a world where a company’s aim is to please their paying customers, and one where the aim is to avoid attracting the arbitrary wrath of a capricious government agency.
    And their paying customers would be who, exactly? The advertisers, I’m pretty sure. If the rate cards were holding up over the latest flap, Howie would still be on, and CC would fight it in the courts.
    Speaking of ad rates, I notice Jeff has a SiteMeter in the Comments template. It’s all about eyeballs (or eardrums), innit?

  • http://tvh.rjwest.com HH

    “I would rather my children listen to Howard Stern and Robin Quivers than listen to the hate radio jocks on KFYI or the Disney hate radio jocks on KSFO or Michael Savage.”
    On the one hand, at least with Stern, there’s a chance I wouldn’t be concerned they died of sheer boredom like you would have with Savage. Of course, “hate radio” is lefty for “viewpoint I disagree with on radio.”

  • Marc

    Remember Clear Channel said why they got rid of Stern, and it wasn’t ratings. It was becase their “Responsible Broadcasting Initiative” kicked in today. That initiative is in response to the FCC crackdown.
    It may be a private company doing the censorship, however its only one step removed from an order from the gov’t.

  • Tom Dyess

    I’m sorry if this thought was already posted, there were a lot of comments, but…
    I find this as an interesting side affect of the FCC media consolidation decision in 2003. There is an unintended consequence of larger corporations (ie Clear Channel) now “allowed” to buy smaller independent radio stations. This of course trends towards larger corporations buying popular independent players, which in turn will ultimately create an oligopoly or even a monopoly.
    When government control is concerned, particularly the control of an industry that requires a completely separate bureaucracy (the FCC) it is much easier to control an industry with just a few players than it is to control thousands of independent radio stations for two reasons.
    The first is simply numbers. Lets use a fun prison analogy. With a correctional facility staffed with 150 guards, ten inmates are much easier to control than 10,000. No substantial collective dissent there. Second, conglomerates have much more to lose than a single radio station. Sure, the independent radio station owner can lose his business, but the conglomerate has hundreds of thousands of shareholders, tens of thousands of employees and a ton of money in the bank for the FCC to extort.
    There is an irony here. We the people, through our system of government, intended to lessen government regulation by allowing media consolidation. That very media consolidation resulted in the regulation of this industry to be much more efficient. Regulating fewer companies requires fewer bureaucrats, but I don

  • h0mi

    1 thing noone seems to be thinking about is the fact that Clear channel was looking for an excuse to get rid of Stern. Not because of indecency but because his ratings were down but the show was still expensive. This allowed them a pretty easy out. And if anyone thinks this would not have happened in the old pre-CC “mom and pop owned radio” days, you haven’t been paying attention to Howard’s rants over the past decade where he decried the various “Family” organizations trying to get him off the air by contacting sponsors who immediately pulled spots off those same mom & pop radio stations for airing Stern.
    Marc- not to mention anyone using an 802.11b/g/a connection for the internet… I guess since those airwaves are publically owned, the gov’t should monitor these frequencies as well. Can’t have people using my airwaves to download porn can’t we?

  • Marc

    Well no, they shouldn’t. They shouldn’t be doing it to broadcast TV or radio either.

  • http://www.tonypierce.com/blog/bloggy.htm tony

    you people make me sick.
    if you dont “get” howard stern, you dont get him.
    if you’re not interested in hearing interviews with lesbians, drunken dwarves, rock stars, politicians, stutterers, celebrities, and crackheads, then turn your stupid dial back to britney spears singing about sex.
    and if you dont see the link between this extremist administration desperate to agressively spread its restrictive agenda into every single aspect of non-conservative american life then your head is as far up your ass as your comments reflect.
    regardless of whether you want to hear adult content on your radio in the morning, as long as it is within the vague boundaries of the fcc’s guidelines, as americans you should stand behind stern today solely on his first ammendment rights.
    dumbasses.
    this entire thing is political. stern is number one or number two in nearly all of his markets. the only reason clear channel is “firing” stern is because of pressure from the fcc which is pressure from the white house.
    does any of the pressure come from the fact that stern is not a right wing towel boy anxious to support the president at every turn? and save your tin hat bs. theres no one more powerful or listend to who Isnt a republican on radio than the king of all media.
    hello.
    and i thought jarvis had intelligent readers.
    you dont even know what howard said.

  • Mani

    Persian Top Weblogs Competition Winners-2004

  • Anonymous
  • http://twistedspinster.com/ Andrea Harris

    Poor tony. We’ve made him sick — what, even the people who agree with Jeff? Whatever.
    And if it will make anne.elk feel any better, the only thing I agree with her about is the fact that Jeff is being the weensiest bit hypocritical with his exaggerated outrage over some cities he doesn’t even live in being deprived of St. Howard’s show, considering his own prohibitions towards certain words, phrases, and so on in his blog comments. Though maybe it’s a New York “as long and the homeless person pisses in the street not my home it’s okay” kind of thing.

  • Billy West

    Stern used to complain that (at the time) more famous hosts like Imus never lifted a finger to help him when he was being censored. Then, when Opie and Anthony could have used Stern’s support in the same company he jumped on the bandwagon upon their firing. So I have little sympathy. Still, this isn’t a simple matter of a private company making a decision – the FCC has in the past and is threatening again to keep Infinity/Viacom from doing other business unrelated to shock radio. That might not be direct government censorship – but it is close enough. Clear Channel wouldn’t be firing him if it was not for similar threats.

  • Joe Peden

    anne elk must have sworn off pop-ups as to be able to come up with one post which makes sense. It’s a beginning.
    But, I think Jeff is merely searching for ratings.

  • taras bulba

    Johnathan — “first they came for Howard”?? So a celebrity getting fired from one $$$ job by his private employer, and having to spend, oh, maybe 72 hours looking for another $$$ job with another private employer is really the moral equivalent of someone getting dragged away by the government’s secret police, never to be seen again? Thanks for explaining that one for me, dude …

  • Johnathan Reale

    gerrymander describes the FCC as reacting to a groundswell of viewer opinion. I’m not so sure that’s correct, as there was simultaneously a groundswell in other quarters of the opinion that people were way too uptight (and even as a father of two, about to be three, I agree). But even assuming that the FCC was responding to citizen desires (and assuming that such a task is necessary) and that Stern’s show’s content does cross a line sometimes, the FCC should be clarifying the line so that people can adjust their behavior accordingly, not just jacking up the punishments for being caught in the grey area on someone’s bad day.
    Even when it’s valid to outlaw something you don’t like, the law should not read “Thou shalt not do what that guy doesn’t like”. It should be specific as to the prohibited behaviors, otherwise, how can one know how to avoid breaking the law? How can you defend yourself against charges of breaking it? When the law becomes what law enforcement says it is, we are in Rule Of Men, not Rule Of Law territory.

  • Budd

    Jeff…I love your blog. Thoughtful, intelligent and witty. I am down with Lileks on this issue, however.
    I see nothing lost by taking Stern’s trash off the air.
    I respect your reasoning and I understand it, but I disagree with your conclusions.
    Thanks again for your consistently challenging writings.

  • Johnathan Reale

    taras bulba — I wasn’t trying to imply moral equivalence, and I hope no one was offended if that’s how they read it. I was implying procedural equivalence, however, where failing to defend a relatively unsympathetic early target will likely result in increased boldness going after future targets.
    And yet, while it won’t make anyone’s Government Abuse of the Century list, when vague yet highly menacing pronouncements from a government agency create a business climate of uncertainty and fear that result in firings that would not have otherwise occurred (that’s my assumption anyway, I might be wrong), I still say an injustice has been done, and not a minor one.
    We obviously disagree about how strict the limits should be, and that’s okay. But can we agree that the FCC has a responsibility to make its requirements much more precise?

  • Brian McC

    Jeff…
    I can’t believe some of the comments from your readers. I too thought you had some intelligent readers (though, I’ve always maintained that liberals hate stern more than conservatives ever have).
    The bottom line is… these comments show exactly why the Jackson-boob thing is really a bid deal. I mean, haven’t you been looking around wondering: “Are people actually taking this seriously?” Well, wake up to reality: they are. Even your educated, otherwise intelligent readers will see nothing wrong with taking Stern off the air.
    You know the old, “First they came for the unions, then the homosexuals, then the jews, then me…” poem? (Bea Arthur once used that in reference to Howard, but I digress…)
    Well, this has affected me personally for the first time. I am a college educated, upper middle class, CEO/President of an internet company. And I am not afraid to say, if I lose Howard Stern from my life, it will be devestating.

  • hen

    I agree with Anne.Elk (goddamnit) and most of the posters. Jeff you have to be kidding. The comment which he let “slip by” (and try to slip by an “O&A RULE!” and see how far it goes on his show) was something to the effect of “what does it smell like when you fuck a nigger? watermelon?”.
    Is this something you find amusing or allowable? I find it offensive and typical Stern, boring, look at me i’m a naughty boy, idiocy.
    His EMPLOYER has the right to do WHATEVER they see fit when an EMPLOYEE allows racist, sexist and idiotic statements.
    But keep on blaming Bush for the falling sky, Chicken Little.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Traveling today…. likely can’t respond to any of this until later….

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    Eeeeeeeeai! I’ve been censored! Jeff, how could you?

  • Urako

    The sky is falling!!!
    Censorship!
    Oh my God. It is the end of radio.
    .
    Or maybe it’s just a company making a decision on what it want’s to support. Kind of like you do. Hypocrite. I don’t recall hearing the government mentioned in this case . . . except by you.
    Get a clue Jeff.

  • Voice of Reason

    I have not been through all the comments, but has anyone mentioned that Clear Channel and Viacom (Stern’s syndicator) are bitter competitors? There has been talk that Clear Channel would not put Stern on any new stations (just last week here in Atlanta when Clear Channel changed a station’s format and created a “hot talk” FM station – which stinks) because they did not want to help a competitor. Shocking, business at work. Stern will apparently continue to be on the vast majority of his current stations.
    On a different note, how can anyone honestly view the broadcast media over the past 20 years and not notice the progressive coarsening, for good or bad? Two examples on prime time TV: bare a–es, and use of the word a–. Not a big deal in and of itself, but the trend is definitely there.

  • David Schoumacher

    Give a blogger enough rope….
    By now I would hope the above reactions would convince you to re-think your rant.
    As the owner of broadcast properties, I made decisions not to carry Howard Stern in my markets a long time ago. Was I denying him free speech? Less fussy broadcasters disagreed and “hired” him.
    I have responsibilities to our listeners, our sponsors, our investors and (most of all) my conscience. Most of all I have to resist the ignorant tirades of people like you.
    The one who is the threat is you…couched in all your “free speech” rhetoric. The logical extension of your remarks is that you want the government to do something about this. Shame!
    Since many like me made this decision not to carry Stern years before Mr. Bush was President, I fail to see your hysterical point. And somehow I think radio that truly serves its marketplace will survive.

  • Anonymous

    There is a difference between libertarian and libertine.

  • Amazed

    Pick your battles. Clear channel was right on this one. Howard Stern stirs up cheap, lowest common denominator, controversy. Let him go to sattelite or wherever, we don’t need crude, IQ lowering,mindless, smirky, adolescent,crap overwhelming the “PUBLIC” airwaves. There are times to be outraged. This is not one of those.

  • Taras Bulba

    Johnathan — I wasn’t offended (and I hope I didn’t offend you), but I also wasn’t convinced by your argument. How far exactly have we slid down this particular slippery slope? Bubba the Love Sponge and Howard Stern have to find new gigs? (And I’m guessing that at least in Stern’s case, it’s not going to be very difficult for him to do so). The horror, the horror. I well might like to see the FCC be more precise, but given the ingenuity of people like Howard and Bubba, wherever the FCC draws a bright line (nix all the talk about anal sex, and about how Africans all eat monkeys, say), don’t you figure that Stern, Bubba, et al will find some way to push the envelope without touching any particular enumerated third rail (“hey, they never warned us about doing a show on dwarf lesiban amputees mud-wrestling!”)?

  • Khan

    I like how Jeff gets revved up…starts with his fairly reasoned, but very wrong, predictions and then suddenly goes nuts! ” The more I think about this, the more enraged I get.” And guess who takes the brunt of his anger? Bush…again. It’s getting to be a mantra with Jarvis. Is he on heart meds? Psych meds? Needs a little anger management. One tit did this? Bush’s fault?
    Michael Powell of the FCC…who motivated the recent Viacom/Mel Kamarzin hearings and subsequent changes in policy…BILL CLINTON APPOINTEE!! Hello, Jeff, you here? Still busy blaming Mel Gibson for end of western civ…or Bush for everything else!

  • shark

    SO today, Bush has changed his tune. Suddenly, the current administration – which he had generally liked- is suddenly wacko. The war in Iraq- which he had felt was going well- is suddenly a big quagmire. Bush national guard story- which was not a big deal to Stern not too long ago, is suddenly an issue for him. He thinks he’ll get better treatment from a KERRY administration? Hello…
    The good news is that Stern really can’t sway many votes, no matter what he says.

  • shark

    sorry, my last post should read STERN changed his tune, not Bush lol…

  • public good

    Clearchannel may be a private company, but last I heard, they have been entrusted with public airwaves, and there are responsibilities to the public that go with it. That may include “protecting” the public, but also includes give the public access to have a voice.

  • Jeff

    Funny what the FCC decides is important. They couldn’t be bothered when a hundred thousand people protested the relaxed restrictions on ownership. First they cam for the Dixie Chicks…

  • http://sisu.typepad.com/sisu/ Sissy Willis

    A nice little lesson in basic economics . . . Thank you so much.
    The visible hand

  • CleverNameHere

    What really cracks me up is how anyone can say there is a difference between a broadcast signal, and a cable or satellite signal. What? just because one comes through a wire it can have almost any content it wants, but one that travels through the air for a little ways must be censored. Better yet, one that travels through the air but goes into space for a bit can have freedom of content, but the one that travels from the nearest broadcast antenna must be censored. The mind-boggling hypocracy is almost laughable.
    The difference is that broadcast media depend on a govt. enforced monopoly of their particular broadcast frequency. There is a finite broadcast spectrum, and it is necessary for the govt. to be the gatekeeper of this public resource. Otherwise there’d be no obstacle to stations trying to broadcast on the same frequency.
    Satellites and cable companies don’t have that limitation. There really isn’t a practical limit to the number satellite or cable channels.

  • http://youngcurmudgeon.typepad.com Eric Deamer

    Buzzmachine de-linked. Buzz machine removed from “favorites”. The market has spoken (or perhaps you’re being censored. It’s so hard to tell). Have fun talking to your new audience of Robert McClelland.

  • Kong

    “Let’s hear a little liberal outrage at goverment stiffling free spech.”
    You mean the same liberals who invented ‘Political Correctness’ and stifle conservative dialog in schools?
    Please, they are worse than the bible-thumpers.
    Kong

  • hen

    Hey Jeff do you think the government acts in a vacuum? Do you think that they decided to get tough on the kind of idiocy that goes on in TV and radio solely on their own fiat? Or maybe, just maybe, people, you know, the public, is sick and tired of this vulgar idiocy and complained en masse and loudly?
    I know how the Upper West Siders think at their little cocktail parties poo pooing how dumb and uncultured the rest of us are, i just didn’t think you were part of this ilk. I guess i am wrong.

  • submandave

    Marc: There is a big difference between satellite and broadcast media, especially in the transmission and receipt of the signals.
    Satellite transmissions are much higher frequency and narrower in band. Due to the high frequency, individual signals can be multiplexed (i.e. stacked in the same frequency) and then broken out again by the receiver, so there is no need for 1000 discrete frequencies to transmit 1000 channels. Broadcast media, however, is limited in the amount of information that can be carried since their wavelength is much lower.
    The narrow band transmission of satellite also requires much more direct (i.e. point-to-point) transmission. You have to actually point your dish at the satellite to receive the signal. As a result, different satellites could transmit on the same frequency without interference. Broadcast, however, is just blasted out into the air and if the signal is strong enough you’ll get it. If two signals on the same frequency are close enough, you’ll get mush. I’m not an expert, legally or technically, but I imagine that bleed-over may be an issue with satellites in close orbit, so there may be some regulation of frequencies, but obviously it isn’t as much an issue.
    Finally, satellite signals are generally encoded to protect the propritary and financial interests of the owners. No pay, no play. Broadcast signals are sent in the clear. Again, if you have a piece of wire you can receive.
    As for Jeff’s screed, I believe in placing blame where it is due. As many have pointed out, it is Congress, driven by volumes of letters from their constituents, that have convened these hearings that have apparently prompted Clear Channel into offering up Stern as a sacrificial lamb to the gods of decency and standards. Bottom line, that is what this is. CC knows that if it wants to continue to expand, it will need both FCC and Congressional support. CC feels that to secure both it needs to demonstrate that it is a good citizen and has chosen to prove this by cutting one of the most visible boogey-men of the far-right.
    As for the Chicken Little cries of “censorship”, first give me a record of the FCC systemically removing broadcast licenses or imposing fines in excess of the revenue generated by the offense and we’ll talk. CC did not respond to fear of censorship, as much as others may try to paint it as such. What they did in canning Stern was a calculated business decission. Had they felt there was more money to be made from keeping him than there was in any lost potential expansion of market share their statement to Congress would have been filled with invocations of the First Ammendment rather than indignant cries for public decency.

  • submandave

    Finally, re the “I can’t control what my child might hear in someone else’s car or home” argument is so lame I hesitate to honor it with a rebuttal. If you hold this position then I must assuem you never went to a friend’s house because “he’s got cable” and you could sit in the basement and see titties.

  • http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/ Captain Ed

    I note that a search of Buzz Machine for posts regarding Rush Limbaugh and Donovan McNabb turn up nothing at all. Rush got fired from ESPN for giving his opinion of McNabb’s supposedly easy treatment from the media based on his ethnicity. You didn’t find that “censorship” worthy of outrage at the time. It seems your ire is somewhat conditional, Jeff. You have no problem with Rush getting canned for (arguably) racist comments, but firing Stern endangers free speech?
    Sorry. Both of them deserved the axe.

  • Anonymous
  • mike

    Contrary to what carter said above, Clear Channel’s reaction vis a vis Howard Stern is not the response of the marketplace.
    Howard Stern owns every market in which he broadcasts. The response of the marketplace is overwhelmingly in favor of Howard Stern.
    And please keep that fact in mind when you trot out any arguments based on “community standards.” What twisted definition of “community” do you have to use to deny that a number one radio show isn’t in tune with community standards?
    If you don’t like Howard, don’t listen to him. If you don’t like the fact that he’s so overwhelmingly popular, tough. To quote carter: You got a problem with that?

  • http://www.lowcarbfreedom.com Katherine

    Jeff,
    I don’t have to be subjected to Janet Jackson’s bra being ripped off in front of my 10-year old daughter and her friends on the public airwaves. I agree with most of the other posters and don’t feel I have to summarize their excellent arguments regarding Howard Stern: you are way off base here.
    Katherine

  • http://www.focusedperformance.com/unfocused.html Frank Patrick

    I’m with you Jeff. I’ve been a 20-year listener to Stern, and have always appreciated his SATIRE and his willingness to call things (like hypocrisy) as he sees them. As I wrote this morning…
    http://www.focusedperformance.com/uf/2004_02_01_uf.html#107780036012369803
    …using your post as a jumping off point, the “perfect storm” of government pressure on the Clear Channels and Viacoms (which trickle down to pressure on the most popular morning radio personality — did someone above mention market respose?), the attacks on the idea of gay marriage and the rights associated with it, and knee-jerk reactions (on both sides) to bloody movies all come together as symptoms of the culture war’s most recent target — the first amendment.
    Like you said, we don’t need no nanny. It’s about time America grew out of it’s adolescence and joined the adults of the rest of the world.
    And like Billy Cystal once said, “It’s not fun. It’s just not funny.”

  • jay

    Jeff,
    Take Andy Rooney, Al Franken, and Dan Rather off the air? What a great idea!
    But seriously, don’t worry. Once John Kerry takes his rightful place in the White House, he’ll clean house at the FCC. Then you’ll have your strippers, whores, retards, and lesbians back.

  • Franky

    Jeff,
    I think you’re off base too on blaming the government for this censorship, but that’s not to say that I disagree with the general gist of your post.
    So Clear Channel just had no idea Stern would say something stupid and controversial? No idea in the world? And the people who listened and were offended, they too were just totally caught off-guard by Stern saying controversial?
    No one is suggesting that everyone MUST listen to Howard Stern. You don’t like him, don’t listen to him. That simple.
    To the people who mentioned the “children”. I know that’s usually an argument-ender “but think of the children”, but our society’s media should not be constrained by what will offend the easily offended or shock children. It’s incumbent upon you to ensure your children don’t listen/watch etc a partiuclar show, rather than taking away my option to watch/listen to the show.

  • Joe Peden

    Jeff’s gone today, let’s beat him while he’s down. He likes it.

  • Joe Peden

    Franky, anything you want will be yours for the asking. I promise to make no requests which might impede your freedom. Nambla has some programming you will like.

  • jasmine

    Where was all this outrage when Trent Lott was forced to resign his post in the senate because he had the bad taste to tell a lame joke at an old man’s private birthday party?
    How many dozens of conservative college and high school students are expelled, or forced to shut up – and even apologize – for speaking their minds on campus every year because what they said was deemed ‘offensive’ or ‘intolerant.’
    I’m not talking about hate-speech, I’m talking about pointing out the hypocrisy and absurdity of mandated racial quotas and political correctness in our society.
    Stop kidding yourselves.
    There never was any real free speech or freedom of expression in this country.

  • opstock

    CleverNameHere,
    First of all, you’re wrong about needing the government to control the airwaves, but we’ll leave that argument for another day. Secondly, let’s say you’re right, what does that have to do with government censorship? What does having to dole out seperate frequencies have to do with them trying to control the content?

  • C Bennett

    One of the five characteristics of the Roman empire at its end was the debasement of art and culture. Jerry Springer — the Opera just won the Laurence Olivier awards in England. Now we have Jarvis seeing the end in the partial silencing of Howard Stern. Bring out the public executions, Jeff — don’t like them? Fine? Pick another channel, we have lots of them.
    To help navigate this tricky issue, Jeff refers us to which thinker? Tony Pierce, hustler of “flow me bucks” and young girls and daily screeds against everyone that takes up more air than he does. This is the type of defender that Stern attracts — traders in the same gutter-flow.
    In every person, family, job or country, the tradeoff has always been the same: total freedom from external constraint requires some degree of internal control to keep from heading straight to chaos — people like Stern abuse the freedom and it results in consideration of more external controls.
    Stern’s brand of insult-humor isn’t an ‘isolated slip,’ it’s a shtick. Stern isn’t a “braver” us who got caught on a slip and O’Reiley’s next and then the Pope and then no one can speak outloud. Move on.

  • http://www.monitortan.com Hiawatha Bray

    Thanks for the kind words, Jeff.
    In response, I say that if I wrote something really insulting about, say, Jews in my column, it’d never see the light of day. The editors would pull it and I’d be lucky to escape with my job. If by some nightmare it got into the paper, I’d surely be fired.
    And that’s just fine. I work here. The paper is owned by the New York Times Co., and they have a right to set standards for what will appear in it. I expect to be held to such standards, and indeed want to be. I don’t want to work at a place that’d print any idiot drivel that popped into a columnist’s head. And I certainly have no right to demand that such drivel be printed.
    I just don’t think you’ve got a leg to stand on here. Ah well. Nice blog anyway…!

  • rivlax

    Boy, I’m glad I wasn’t in the room when Jeff wrote this post. I’d have been injured by all the jerking knees.

  • CleverNameHere

    opstock
    First of all, you’re wrong about needing the government to control the airwaves, but we’ll leave that argument for another day. Secondly, let’s say you’re right, what does that have to do with government censorship? What does having to dole out seperate frequencies have to do with them trying to control the content?
    First of all, if you’re just going to assert that I am wrong about a particular point, the CENTRAL point, and then decline to support that assertion, you really shouldn’t have contested my claim to begin with.
    Second, govt. has the right to control the content of broadcasts because the frequencies are owned by us, the people, and govt. is the instrument of our will. We the people have a right to control what crosses our airwaves. You personally may not like the govt.’s decision, but then you aren’t the totality of “the people”.

  • Paolo

    Way over the top. Jeff, have you been reading the Democratic Underground again? That is what you sounded like here!

  • Matt

    Jeff,
    What are your thoughts on zoning?
    Billboards of any kind, anywhere, OK with you? (Don’t like it, there are plenty of other directions to look…)
    Also, it seems like enterprises like Clear Channel must respond to three market realities: audience, advertisers and regulators. The advertisers and the regulators both respond to the audience as well (hence your provision of links). So, if it’s OK for Clear Channel to respond to direct audience input, why not to regulatory input spurred by direct audience input to the regulators? If the regulators are so undemocratic that they are beyond reach of us in the audience, why provide a link for us to give them feedback?

  • Taras Bulba

    Probably having too much fun beating a dead horse here (hey, that could be good shock-radio shtick, too …), but in his update, is Jeff really arguing that Howard Stern “slipped one day” and accidentally offended The Powers That Be? Uh, unless I’m thinking of a different Howard Stern, it would only be a slip-up if he let a show go by *without* saying something offensive. Don’t get me wrong, just like the Nazis in Skokie, Stern’s got every right to be just as offensive as he wants to be, but I must have missed that part where the ACLU was insisting that the Illinois Nazis needed to have their own three-hour block in drive-time every afternoon … and btw, how come I don’t have my own radio show, damnit? I keep calling up Clear Channel, but they won’t even give me an interview! Outrageous censorship!! Creeping fascism!!

  • steve

    Howard Stern can (and does) say whatever he wants.
    ClearChannel can hire (and fire) whomever they want for whatever reason they choose.
    There is no slippery slope here. Free speech is better protected and enforced today than at anytime in the past.
    This “event” will have no impact of any significance on anything.

  • Peter

    I fail to see the big problem. Howard Stern makes a living, and a good one, out of pushing the edges. So he pushes the edges a bit further than his employers are willing to put up with and gets suspended. The suspension will end, Stern will go back to pushing the edges in a different direction until he, again, pushes the edges too far.
    Stern made a business decision years ago to base his career on pushing those edges. It doesn’t take a conspiricy of right-wing zelots issuing fiats from a secluded room, you dance on the edge, eventually you fall off.

  • http://www.shanksvillememorial.com furious

    Jarvis is unclear on the concept…
    Censorship and Sponsorship are not the same thing. Unless Howard Stern were the recipient of NEA grants, that is.
    He is also unclear on the concept that the FM/AM broadcast frequencies are public domain. If one wishes to carry over those airwaves, one agrees to a code of conduct. The penalties for violation of that code would be a surprise only to someone too stupid or lazy to read their licensing agreement. Howard Stern is neither, and he’s been on the wrong side of those rules and paid enough fines himself to know the consequences. He’d been warned.
    Jarvis is also a hypocrite, censoring his own private enterprise “because his son might read something vulgar”, while denying aonther private enterprise that same privilege and telling the rest of us that Our children have to take their chances.
    Get over yourself, Jarvis. Stern has a right to propagate his skid-row material free of prior restraint, but ClearChannel is under NO obligation to provide him with a megaphone.
    Are we, um, clear on that, yet? Thank you for providing the links — I’m going to use them to convey my approval to ClearChannel for acting as responsible stewards of the public airwaves.
    furious

  • Mark Edwards

    Yes Jeff, I agree with Al Malviva –
    Go soak your head ond cool off, man.
    *Broadcast* media has PLENTY to do and discuss in the family arena, without making us suffer Howards filth in public.
    The WSJ seems to cover every topic worthy of mention – it’s a family newspaper – get it? No censorship here – just common sense standards of *public* conduct.
    My kids have no earthly need to hear about black twat or Parisian salami, etc., but if you want to, I know there are *thousands* of places out there where you can go.
    Does this really sound like CENSORSHIP to you?
    Get a grip on reality, man.

  • http://www.licquia.org/log/jeff Jeff Licquia

    Of all the media I have access to, only one is forced upon me: broadcast.
    Of all the media I have access to, only one is illegal for me to participate in: broadcast.
    Remove either of those restrictions on broadcast, and I’ll be a lot more sympathetic. But as long as the government imposes both of the above restrictions on me, they need to impose my will (through the normal republican means) on those quasi-government entities allowed to exploit a government-owned resource.

  • http://www.strathlachlan.com/ Steve MacLaughlin

    I have followed satellite radio for years now, and noted this morning how the FCC might also extend their tyranny to that medium as well…
    “I think you are hearing from the radio side the complaint that ‘We’ll live by whatever rules, but we think the rules have to be fair to everyone who is in this medium,’ and you’re hearing from the broadcast television side as well. “I think that’s a legitimate issue, which is why I think we need to try to take a look on a wider survey.” – Kevin Martin, FCC Commissioner
    http://www.strathlachlan.com/blog/2004/02/stern_warning.html

  • http://www.learnedhand.com/scrutineer.htm MDP

    Jeff Jarvis: I abhor this culture of offense. We are becoming ruled by what offends a few of us.
    When in American history have broadcasters had more freedom to air borderline-obscene material? Your complaint is ludicrous.
    Jeff Jarvis: I have been far, far more offended by things I have heard Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson say on our public airwaves but I have not called for them to be banned, even though they are more disgusting and hateful than Stern has ever been.
    You are comparing bananas to peanuts. Do you really want to equate political/religious speech with “sexually explicit language and graphic[] discuss[ion of] a pornographic videotape“?
    The Republic wouldn’t exactly fall if Howard Stern were forced to comply with, say, 1980’s or 1970’s standards of “decency.” But if the government started censoring political or religious speech, it would be grounds for a revolution.

  • ChicagoListener

    The irony of this situation is that Stern became enormously popular because of FCC regulations, not in spite of them.
    If the FCC regs disappeared overnight, Stern’s popularity would quickly fade due to competition. New voices that are even more outrageous, such as Opie & Anthony, would eclipse Stern in the absence of any regulations on content. For the same reason, I predict that Stern’s popularity on satellite radio will be much less than it is right now. Stern is out of touch, and new voices will crush him on a (lower) level playing field.
    Stern should hope, for his sake, that the FCC regs continue.

  • dc

    “Of all the media I have access to, only one is forced upon me: broadcast.
    Of all the media I have access to, only one is illegal for me to participate in: broadcast.”
    What a load of crap. Nobody forces broadcast on you. You make the decision of turning on your (optionally) purchaced television or radio set to a (selected) channel. And why is it illegal for you to participate? If any of the TV/radio companies hired you they would be breaking the law?
    I enjoy listening to the Stern show during my morning commute to work. Yeah, sometimes he says something that I find offensive, and lately his politics are very uninformed, but that’s part of the overall package. You don’t like it, fine, don’t participate. Why should I and the millions of others who enjoy the show be deprived because you don’t like it?

  • Franky

    “Franky, anything you want will be yours for the asking. I promise to make no requests which might impede your freedom. Nambla has some programming you will like.”
    Jesus Christ. What a repulsive post. Ironic how the hurler of insults is often left much more dirtied than the intended victim.
    Moving on. No one denies that Clear Channel has the right to fire Stern. I guess what worries me is that there seems to be this rising tide of conservatism, as the company seemed to be playing to as it boasted of firing Stern.
    Instead of taking things head on, and someone ought to be strongly taken head on over the use of the word “nigger”, the recourse seems to increasingly be “ban it” “off the air” “fire him”. Let the airwaves be a smorgsboard of choice: you opt for what you like and I won’t interfere, I’ll listen to what I want without any interference from you.

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    Interesting use by Jeff of the word “chill.” It reminds me of Tim Robbins’ speech at the National Press club, and his allegation that “[a] chill wind is blowing in this nation.” If I remember correctly, his main premise was that while he should be allowed to speak out against the war, no one should be allowed to label him a traitor and no one should be allowed to verbally pick on his son. And it seemed that someone was infringing upon his consitutionally guaranteed right to speak at Cooperstown.

  • http://pherrett.blogspot.com/ Lynxx Pherrett

    There’s something bigger happening here and it has an impact on our business, on media, on journalism, on the press.” — JJ
    First they came for the buggywhip makers, but I just hopped into my auto-mobile.
    Then they came for the taffy-pullers, but I just drove to store and bought a Snickers.
    There is nothingbigger happening here.” That the arrival of the 24-hour “All GangBangs All The Time” station in your local broadcast market may have been delayed by a few months or years is no big deal.

  • cardeblu

    Blame the Reps? Blame the Dems, too.
    “Clear Channel: Spreading The Love In A Bi-Partisan Way”.
    Thanks to Michele for providing this link.

  • CleverNameHere

    Mr. Jarvis
    What happens when Bill O’Reilly slips one day and says something that offends someone in a gotcha way and that’s just the excuse somebody needed to demand that he go off the air. Or Andy Rooney. Or Dan Rather. Or Al Franken, once he’s on radio. Doesn’t matter what your political stripe is; it’s all speech and once it can be shut off for one guy it can be shut off for the next.
    Defending free speech almost always starts with defending those whose speech you don’t like — but if you don’t defend that speech, then you defend no one’s speech.

    The Govt. is tasked with the control of the public airwaves in accordance with our wishes. As long as Govt. is only acting to control content traveling over the public airwaves, it’s not “censorship”. And anyway, there IS a line between political speech and non-political speech. And asking “how did that nigger chick’s pussy taste” is not political speech.
    Yes, they are public airwaves. That means they belong to me, too. I want to listen to Stern. You don’t. Fine. Change the channel. We have lots of them.
    You’re totally missing the point, Jeff. I don’t personally care whether Stern is on the air or not. I’m not bothered by what he says. But he’s broadcast over the public airwaves, where he can be heard by children. I’m not a parent, but surely you can appreciate the concerns of those parents who don’t want their children exposed to this? Or should they just throw away all their radios? Or maybe the parents should monitor their kids wherever they are when Stern comes on?

  • http://www.dailynewsbrief.com JoeS

    Are you literally for “anything goes” on radio and tv? Graphic sex? Bestiality? Saturday Morning child pornography cartoons? Is all that ok, or do you believe in some limits, as long as you get to pick them?
    There is no chilling effect, here. No slippery slope. Just people making choices. Some things are ok, some things are not ok. Free speech has limits. The only question is where those limits are, and who gets to decide.
    If you want a federal broadcast license, you should have to follow some rules. Deciding if those rules are constitutional is what the courts are for.

  • Mike

    Yes, MDP, we should equate political/religious speech with “sexually explicit language and graphic[] discuss[ion of] a pornographic videotape.” Mr. Falwell’s rants ARE far more offensive to some of us than Ms. Jackson’s boob. And we’re going to fight the conglomerates who misuse their power in this folly.

  • http://tvh.rjwest.com HH

    http://www.drudgereport.com/flash6rl.htm – Limbaugh has sounded the warning… now things might get done.

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    Answering a question with a question: “Did it smell like watermelon?”
    I hope the FCC buries this ordure 10 miles deep and let the moral relativists howl about how offensive Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are to their tender ears.
    The times they are achangin’.

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    Basically reiterating a couple of points from above:
    How is it “[t]he death of broadcast” when there is more obscenity and nudity on broadcast than ever before?
    Following up on the point made by JoeS, do you think there should be no broadcast standards? DO you think NBC should be allowed to show porn on Saturday mornings?
    I do cherish free speech. Stern can yell whatever he wants on a street corner. He can print leaflets and hand them out. He can put up anyting on a web site. But his right to free speech does not extend to being able to beam anything on the airwaves (others above have already explained why broadcast belongs to the public).

  • growler

    Re: It’s okay if it’s satellite/cable ’cause you willingly pay for that.
    Scenario: I got Cinemax ’cause it’s cheaper than HBO, and they’re showing the Harry Potter movie this month. My kid wants to see it. But, one late night I go down to get a midnight snack and catch my kid watching “Marilyn Chambers’ Naked Fairy Tales.” I’m offended. I complain to the FCC. Enough others do the same, and soon the FCC pokes its nose into pay-service broadcasting.
    Conclusion: Jeff might be a little too worked up over this, but he’s right. This slippery slope really is slippery.

  • Jim

    Well, well, well, isn’t this ironic. Where were all the 1st Amendment activists when the government was restricting 2nd Amendment rights? Oh yeah, resonable restrictions was the mantra of the day. And since many of those 1st Amendment advocates didn’t care for the 2nd or own firearms they figured they didn’t have a dog in that hunt. So now the gov is going to implement some “reasonable restrictions” on the 1st. Maybe the 2nd Amendment types will overlook the slights from the past and lend a hand. But then again, why should they? I’ll tell you why. Because those gun “nuts” don’t just believe in the 2nd but in the entire Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Remember folks, what goes around comes around. You cannot cherry pick which rights you will defend. We must all hang together or we will all hang seperately.

  • Sarah

    I am sorry that you want to stand behind this and say ‘f’ the government, but the truth is… Our society has become more and more tolerant of things that it should not be and its time people take a stand and tell people that are vulgar that it has no place out in the open air, that all of us are to enjoy. The privacy of your own home is one thing, but the open air is not a place to say whatever you want in the name of free speech. We all live, breathe and listen to the open air and some common ground needs to be reached for all humans so that we next generation is not completely corrupt.

  • KMK

    I’m laughing at the way this thread has gone. Either you don’t know what your rights are or you don’t care. How much power are you willing to give the FCC?
    Julie Hilden from FindLaw laid it out for CNN in this article.
    http://www.cnn.com/virtual/editions/europe/2000/roof/change.pop/frameset.exclude.html
    The First Amendment exists precisely to protect the most offensive and controversial speech from government suppression. The best way to counter obnoxious speech is with more speech. Persuasion, not coercion, is the solution. – ACLU
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. – Constitution – First Amendment
    What Is the FCC’s Responsibility?
    The FCC is barred by law from trying to prevent the broadcast of any point of view. The Communications Act prohibits the FCC from censoring broadcast material, in most cases, and from making any regulation that would interfere with freedom of speech. Expressions of views that do not involve a “clear and present danger of serious substantive evil” come under the protection of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The FCC cannot suppress such expressions. According to an FCC opinion on this subject, “the public interest is best served by permitting free expression of views.”
    This principle ensures that the most diverse and opposing opinions will be expressed, even though some may be highly offensive. – keep reading here:
    http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/freespeech.html

  • Tim

    To all the censoring, retrograde scolds on this page:
    Can I have a Hallelujah? Raise your hand and praise God! Lock up your children! Zip up your zippers! Turn off your televisions and open the Good Book! Decency must be observed. Decorum must be insisted upon. This is America!
    (Then go wank in the garage while your wife is preparing Hamburger Helper.)

  • Catherine

    I laughed when you brought up Skokie Jeff. Yeah, I remember that too since I lived in Chicagoland at the time (LaGrange, IL) and I remember the Danny Kaye movie of the week about it too. However, it wasn’t just about free speech, it was about the right to demonstrate. The ACLU went to court to protect the Nazis right to demonstrate on public property and have a rally like anyone else as long as they don’t incite to riot. Another example of that was Guliani went to court to refuse a permit to Louis Farakhan’s “Million Youth March” and the court upheld their right to march, but the court also supported the police breaking up the march after Khallid Abdul Mohammed incited a riot after a vitriolic speech against city officials, Jews and the police. Free speech ALWAYS has had limits Jeff, but apparently you are new to the law.
    Jeff, you are as wishy washy on free speech as I find most college students about the laws.
    Obscenity is not covered by the First Amendment and Stern knows that. Stern who spent the last week I listened to him DARING callers to get him fired since THEY WILL STILL HAVE TO PAY HIM and he gets to go out in a blaze of glory. I don’t really feel sorry for him. And really it is about him Jeff.
    Admit you are biased Jeff. You were not defending Michael Savage who is just as guilty of Stern with his remarks.
    Also, the media CREATED the Jackson furor. I would never have known about it otherwise. You want to blame someone? Blame your industry.

  • http://www.shanksvillememorial.com furious

    If Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell used the public airwaves to taunt n*ggers and sp*cs and asking Paris Hilton’s boyfriend if he travelled the Hershey Highway, then by all means, Mr. FCC-man, yank their broadcast licenses, too.
    James Lileks puts it better than I ever could:
    “I think it’s a shame [Stern] was reprimanded. I don’t think people understand what’s at stake here. We need to coarsen public discourse as much as possible as quickly as possible, because a free and open society depends on the right of Pink to flash her labia at the next Superbowl. I’m serious: if we don’t see a clitoris on the Jumbocam, this nation is OVER. (Breast, labia – what’s the diff? Please don’t tell me you’re one of those bluenoses who thinks a boob’s okay but explicit gyno topography is somehow unsuitable for prime-time. It’s the HUMAN BODY, people; what’s your hang up? ) I’m tired of people who think that it’s the role of large media chains to hit the panic button when a caller to Stern’s show calls him a f–ing k-ke, and bleeps Howard when when he says the caller a sh-head ch-nk. People! Come on! What is this country coming to when people can’t call other people sh-thead ch-nks on the public airwaves?”
    http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/04/0204/022604.html
    Those of you with your panties in a bunch for Howard remind me of P. J. O’Rourke’s comparison of liberals to toddlers in Give War a Chance:
    “They want to show off their private parts, put anything in their mouths, and say bad words in public.”
    furious

  • Anonymous

    wait a sec the whole FCC quote didn’t transfer over……….However, the Commission does have enforcement responsibilities in certain limited instances.
    For example, the Courts have said that indecent material is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and cannot be banned entirely. It may be restricted, however, in order to avoid its broadcast when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience. Between 6 am and 10 pm – when there is the greatest likelihood that children may be watching – indecent material is prohibited by FCC rules. Broadcasters are required to schedule their programming accordingly or face enforcement action.
    Additionally, the Courts have said that obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment and cannot be broadcast at any time.

  • cbk

    You guys really shouldn’t be writing all this graphic porn racist stuff and using all that foul language on Jeff’s private (but accessible to the public) blog. His son reads this sometimes, you know. And he’s politely asked commenters to refrain for that reason. It you lewd commenters can’t restrain yourselves, Jeff will be forced to remove your comments, or worse, ban you from commenting in the future.
    I mean, really, if calls for decency are ignored, he has no choice, right?
    CBK

  • billg

    Jeff has gone a bit over the top on this Stern stuff. Scaremongering questions asking “What Would Happen If They Did This to You?” ignore the point that the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply to Sterns, or Jeff’s, or my, relationship with a compnay that is paying us for content.
    The Bill of Rights gives Stern the right to say anything he wants to say. But there’s no way Stern can claim that the Bill of Rights obligates Clear Channel or anyone else to transmit what he says. (The fact that Clear Channel is licensed to use the airwaves is not relevant to this issue.)
    Sure, Clear Channel is probably trying to curry political favor here. Sure, the FCC, et al, over-reacted to to the Janet affair. But, there’s not much difference between what Clear Channel did and what editors do every day when the decide what content to buy and run.

  • Catherine

    No KMK, you don’t know the law. You cite the constitution, but don’t mention any of the lines drawn by the courts over the years as the constitution is open to be interpreted by those on the bench at the time (which in the 20th century has always been on the side of the little guy, especially the minority who the court feels need more protection). So, apparently, you don’t understand the law. You also don’t understand that while the ACLU are a bunch of lawyers, they are not the law and they don’t create it. That’s what Congress does.
    Non protected speech includes libel, obscenity, fighting words and commerical speech because they lack social redeeming value and are not essential to DEMORACTIC DELIBERATIONS AND SELF-GOVERNANCE. Obscenity in particular covers anything that lacks serious literary, artistic, political and scientific value. The Canadian court calls anything that degrades women an obscenity which is why Howard Stern was banned there.
    While the First Amendment prevents censorship if the FCC imposes it, it does NOT precent the FCC from imposing sanctions on stations for broadcasting obscenity nor does the First Amendment prevent the FCC from renewing new licenses if IN THE FCC’s OPINION, the broacaster does not “serve the public interest.”

  • Anonymous

    KMK,
    What view or opinion was being expressed on the Stern show in this case?
    Tim,
    Nice try at setting up a hypocrisy straw man to knock over. No one’s suggesting you have to lock up your kids, read the Bible, watch TV, or hide in the garage to abuse yourself. Those are kinda separate issues, don’t you think?

  • http://www.shanksvillememorial.com furious

    CBK:
    Help me out here…Jarvis would ban posters for simply citing those outbursts (vowels excised) from the Howard Stern Show whose right to such outbursts Jarvis so vehemently defends on Free Speech Grounds?
    We can debate it, but we dare not mention what it is we’re debating on pain of banishment?
    That would be an interesting debate to watch.
    furious

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    KMK,
    Since you’re a free speech purist, I suppose you’re against sexual harrassment law and its application in the workplace? Wow, that kind of out-of-the-box thinking is refreshing.

  • Parker

    The issue isn’t whether ClearChannel had a legal right to do so – of course they do. And people have a right to protest. People protested when “My So Called Life” went off the air, people are welcome to demand programming they like.
    What bothers me – personally – is the overall trend towards cleaning up programming, making it more puritan, or politcally safe. Whether its Stern, the Reagans being pulled, or Janet, or even Rush being yanked off Fox football. In all those cases, the broadcaster had a right to make that choice, to appeal to their advertisers and audiences – not disputing that. But I don’t like where it’s all headed, as a consumer. It’s no an issue of any one of those instances being right or wrong – individually, fine – it’s just the frequency with which its all happening. Obviously from the above a lot of people favor that trend. That I don’t get.

  • Insufficiently Sensitive

    “- I abhor this culture of offense. We are becoming ruled by what offends a few of us.”
    It’s worse than that. The ultimate goal of the speechcode autocrats is to have us ruled by the SINGLE most hysterical complainer, the one who takes offense the quickest, the most exquisitely sensitive Princess and the Pea. And the closer that legislation and rulemaking (just check any campus ‘harrassment’ regulation) approach this P&P principle, the more we will see fierce competition between the theoretical victims to identify who’s the most sensitive, most offended, most deserving of relief. Until the practical parts of society rise up and flip off the victimologists and erase a few volumes of speech codes, that oh-so-offended individual rules.

  • Parker

    The other thing that gets me..
    No one listening to Stern’s show was offended. Everyone who listens to his show knows a priori what it’s all about, and choses to hear it.
    Janet’s boob being inappropriate I can understand (though obviously the furor was an overreaction) because no one who chose to watch the super bowl expected it, or chose to see a naked breast.
    But to me, pulling Stern is like Time Warner Cable chosing to no longer carry PlayboyTV, or Skinemax, or any NC-17 movie, or even R-rated movies, or Boyz in the Hood or Chris Rock’s HBO specials, with all its curse words, talk about body parts, or use of the “n” word. Of course Time Warner Cable has that right. Would you feel comfortable if they started making those choices?

  • Parker

    It’s a good thing Sex and the City went off the air when it did – otherwise HBO might have had to follow suit and pull that too. You wouldn’t believe the stuff they talk about on that show. It’s HBO’s right, after all. I’m sure all the commenters above would have been very supportive of that choice.

  • http://www.geocities.com/vodyanoi Half Canadian

    Yeah, Janet Jackson’s breast sure spoke to me.
    Puh-leaze. There is a world of difference between political speech and artistic expression. You can regulate the latter to a degree while giving free reign to the former, and things will be fine. You’d think that AM radio proved that.

  • http://anonymousoutsider.blogspot.com/ A.O.

    Stern has a huge sway over his loyal listeners. Getting a product plugged on his show is worth tens of thousands of dollars. So when he urges his millions of fans to vote for a candidate that translates at the polls. Stern claims that Clear Channel, who has dropped him from syndication, is admitting that that the reason for pulling his show has nothing to do with content and everything with pleasing Congress.
    If the GOP can’t have Stern on their team when the culture wars (especially over gay marriage) start to heat up, they’ll settle to have him sidelined.

  • chitrader

    This is what kills me about you people who see nothing wrong with the pressure the government put on Clear Channel to get rid of Stern. I would venture that none of you even listen to his show, nor let any of your children listen. So how is his show causing any “damage” or “obscenity” to you or anyone who otherwise isn’t voluntarily listening?
    Can’t you just accept the fact that other people enjoy this? Is it so terrible to accept that some (a lot, in fact) of people find this humor funny? Does it drive you so crazy that you have to call your congressman every time you hear of a scatalogical remark, or a breast being exposed, even though you personally never see it or hear it? What demons lurk in your own hearts that force you to get involved?
    The fact that you keep getting the story wrong in the first place (Stern wasn’t the one who said those things, it was a listener who called in and asked a question of a celebrity and Stern hung up on him) only further highlights the fact that you critics have no concept of the show, and really couldn’t care less either. It’s just part of the crusade you have to “protect the children! For God’s sake, won’t someone think of the children?!?!”
    Stern had strong ratings in most of the markets he was kicked off and still he’s gone. That’s only because of government pressure, not market pressure, and that’s something we should all be concerned about.

  • Dave

    I don’t like Stern, that much is true. But here’s the deal: Clear Channel ownes those stations, it’s their call. It’s not Stern we need to rally for…
    …we need to rally against the monopolistic control of the airwaves. The reason this is such a big deal is because Clear Channel exerts far too much control over *our* airwaves for one company. The spectrum is supposed to belong to the American people, not a few multinational conglomerates. Freedom of the press belongs to the people that own one. It’s clearly CC’s right to fire Stern, period. What makes this problem different is that I just can’t start up a radio station to compete with CC without licensing from the government.
    However, if you think switching to satellite is going to save Stern, you’re mistaken. I’m sure Clear Channel will keep him off the air and in court as long as they can… and by the time he’s off the air, Clear Channel will have a new ‘stern’ on the air, being pumped into the cars and homes of all Howards old fans… and promoted at their concert venues… and on their billboard network… and…
    In the end, the average Stern fan isn’t going to pony up to get satellite radio in their home and car, they’ll just swallow whoever else Clear Channel decides to feed them…
    Monopolistic domination of the airwaves is bad, m’kay?

  • CleverNameHere

    What bothers me – personally – is the overall trend towards cleaning up programming, making it more puritan, or politcally safe. Whether its Stern, the Reagans being pulled, or Janet, or even Rush being yanked off Fox football.
    I don’t see how you can look at the global state of programming and conclude that the trend is to make it more puritan. It seems to me the reverse is true.
    If I take 100 steps forward, and one step back, I’m still making forward progress overall.

  • dc

    “…surely you can appreciate the concerns of those parents who don’t want their children exposed to this? Or should they just throw away all their radios? Or maybe the parents should monitor their kids wherever they are when Stern comes on?”
    This is such a BS argument. Why don’t we just ban all adult oriented entertainment because children MAY be exposed to it? If you’re not going to monitor you kid whenever they’re near cable tv, why should the radio be treated any differently?
    “Saturday Morning child pornography cartoons?”
    CONTEXT is important here. Saturday Morning cartoons’ audience are children. The Stern show’s audience is not. Think about it. At least here in the Tri-State area, the radio show comes on weekday mornings. Shouldn’t the kids be… at SCHOOL?

  • CleverNameHere

    This is such a BS argument. Why don’t we just ban all adult oriented entertainment because children MAY be exposed to it? If you’re not going to monitor you kid whenever they’re near cable tv, why should the radio be treated any differently?
    How do you know parents don’t monitor cable TV? Assuming quite a bit, aren’t you?
    CONTEXT is important here. Saturday Morning cartoons’ audience are children. The Stern show’s audience is not. Think about it. At least here in the Tri-State area, the radio show comes on weekday mornings. Shouldn’t the kids be… at SCHOOL?
    You know kids take radios to school, right? They listen to them on the busride, between class, during lunch, during homeroom.

  • Hubris

    chitrader,
    Bad assumption in your argument. I listened to Stern for years, until (in my opinion) he became so repetitive that he was a caricature of himself and anit-funny.
    As for myself, nothing on the radio or TV offends me, I wouldn’t mind broadcast porn 24/7. I just understand the FCC’s right to regulate broadcast media re: obscenity.
    Parker,
    It WOULD be HBO’s right to pull a show off the air. Of course, they wouldn’t because (a) the show was popular and (b) as has been explained, cable is different from broadcast, and the same FCC rules do not apply. Even if someone in the FCC would like to rough up cable, they wouldn’t be able to do so since it wouldn’t be supportable due to the distinctions outlined in previous posts.
    There is no slippery slope here. As far as the FCC “crackdown,” again, can anyone of youremember the 70s and 80s, and what was on TV and radio?? I don’t think we’re in an era of increased broadcast censorship compared to the past.

  • Hubris

    Compound word in previous post should be “anti-funny.” Don’t think “anit” is much of a word.

  • Taras Bulba

    Parker – let me make sure I’m clear on this: the fact that in the world we all actually live in, HBO aired “Sex and the City” for six seasons with absolutely zero pressure from the FCC counts for less than the fact that in the world inside your head they might possibly someday have been pressured to yank it off the air?
    I think Stern’s an idiot and I think Rush Limbaugh’s an idiot, but why is Stern getting fired Storm-the-Bastille time while Limbaugh getting fired is just an idiot getting fired? Or did the GOP want to get Limbaugh out of the way, too? Oh, wait, Rush still has about six other gigs going on. Anybody want to bet that Howard Stern’s voice will be forever silenced and he’ll never be heard from again? Call me crazy, but I’m guessing he’ll pop up somewhere, like Tom Joad … “Anywhere there are lesbians spanking each other, I’ll be there. Anywhere there’s a guy hawking celebrity sex tapes, I’ll be there …”

  • http://www.learnedhand.com/scrutineer.htm MDP

    Franky: I guess what worries me is that there seems to be this rising tide of conservatism, as the company seemed to be playing to as it boasted of firing Stern.
    If your historical horizons don’t extend beyond the last six months or so, then maybe it does look like a “rising tide of conservatism.” More sexually explicit material is broadcast today on tv and radio than ever before in American history. In the broader historical context, the anti-Jackson anti-Stern reaction is a tiny wavelet.
    Mike: Yes, MDP, we should equate political/religious speech with “sexually explicit language and graphic[] discuss[ion of] a pornographic videotape.” Mr. Falwell’s rants ARE far more offensive to some of us than Ms. Jackson’s boob.
    It’s irrelevant that you and others are more offended by Falwell’s rants than by Jackson’s boob and Stern. The federal government may not constitutionally censor political and religious speech (and that First Amendment protection would be trivial if it extended only to inoffensive speech). But the federal government is allowed to keep “boob reveals” off the public airwaves. At least, that’s the position taken by the majority of the public and the courts.
    Tim: To all the censoring, retrograde scolds on this page: Can I have a Hallelujah? Raise your hand and praise God! Lock up your children! Zip up your zippers! Turn off your televisions and open the Good Book! Decency must be observed. Decorum must be insisted upon. This is America!

    Nice try, Tim. I’m sure I’m not the only agnostic who enjoys Stern, but still thinks the FCC should enforce fairly liberal (historically speaking) smut restrictions on the public airwaves. The world is a more complicated place than you seem to imagine.
    Catherine: Admit you are biased Jeff. You were not defending Michael Savage who is just as guilty of Stern with his remarks.
    Is that true? … Maybe it is. A BuzzMachine search turns up no references to Michael Savage.

  • http://www.ssgb.blogspot.com SSG B

    Here’s a wacky and wild idea for everyone commenting here: exercise market power. If you think Stern should be on the air call CC, or even your local station and tell them you want to hear him. If you don,t call CC and tell them what a good job they’re doing and call your local station and tell them they’d better keep him off the air. Hell, shoot a quick email to the sponsors of Stern’s show and tell them the same thing.
    Wow, first Kuncinich comes in second in Hawaii with 30% of the vote, then Andy Sullivan decides he cannot support Bush (I guess he’s going to vote for Nader now since he’s the only pro-gay marriage person in the running), and now Jeff Jarvis is warning me that the Black-Coated Thugs are coming to kidnap my fiance because she submitted a link to Fleshbot.

  • http://www.focusedperformance.com/unfocused.html Frank Patrick

    Clear Channel’s timing was very interesting. Their announcement about Stern was the night before their CEO was schedule to go before the House subcommittee studying “indecency.” I suspect that even without the caller’s comments, they would have found some excuse.

  • Anonymous

    MDP – I actually checked after the fact, but you are correct, I went through all of July of 2003 (Savage was fired on Jul 7 I think) archives and Jeff never mentioned it.
    I want to repeat what I said last night, how come Jeff hasn’t banged his drum over the restrictions on speech in my workplace? If I said the N word once, and it’s said often on Howard’s show (especially when he plays the tape of a caller who likes to call Robin that) I would be fired. Never mind any of the other garbage. If I ever said to a co-worker “Hey, do you like anal sex?” I would be fired. Where is he in my work place?
    Chitraider – you ventured wrong, as I listened to Stern every morning. When did I turn him off? When he went groaned on too much over a porn star, when he let Stuttering John go on too much, AND when he would COMPLAIN about how hard he has it as the highest paid radio personality in the country. He is so self centered he doesn’t realize that not having your boss pay for every whim (a show broadcast from Vegas for example) is actually the reality of most people.
    I feel no sympathy. Jeff’s call to arms (hey, does Jeff support the second amendment?) rings so hollow on so many levels, especially since he thinks there is a difference between poor taste on Jerry Falwell and poor taste on Howard Stern. I somehow imagine if Jerry Falwell broadcasted the N word as much as Howard, he would have a problem because the “context” would be different (religious nut vs. an anti-religious nut).

  • chitrader

    Hubris,
    So then my point would be right, if Stern becomes unfunny to more people like you, then CC would pull him because he wouldn’t be #1 in the market, which is apparently not the case right now in places such as San Diego and Orlando (at least in the demographics that the show is targeted). But instead, CC pulls Stern the day before the CEO goes before he testifies in front of Congress about “obscenity.”
    And I really have a big problem with everyone simply bowing to 5 unelected bureaucrats determining obscenity for the entire country, but hey, maybe that’s me.

  • Hubris

    chitrader,
    I was addressing your belief that those who weren’t upset about this have never listened to Stern (I have). I wasn’t making the “let the market decide” argument; I was explaining why my listening was only in the past.
    The bureaucrats don’t determine obscenity for the entire country, just for the broadcast airwaves. To prove this to you, I am going to walk outside in ten minutes and shout a series of filthy, hateful, profane statements. I am then going to go home and post a putrid string of obsecenities on my web site. Afterward, perhaps I’ll enjoy five of six adult movies before calling a 900 “entertainment” number. Finally, I will send you a long e-mail detailing it all, then call my friend on the telephone to tell them about the whole series of events in exquisite, lurid, detail. I will then write a letter to the editor about it with a carbon copy to the mayor,and include every filthy word. I will then go out on the street corner to pass out transcripts of my activities. I might even distribute a CD-ROM documentary.
    And you know what, I’ll be fine. I won’t be in trouble. So I don’t think those bureaucrats are really determining obscenity for me.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    I never listened to or watched Savage and so I had nothing to say. Did that come as the result of government pressure and threats?

  • Jimmy

    Howard Stern is boring. He’s been doing the same show for years and years. Heard it once, don’t need to hear it a second time. Maybe Clear Channel figured he wasn’t worth the trouble anymore. Boring troublemaker. Wouldn’t be hard to find someone who’s at least an entertaining troublemaker to replace him on those whole six stations.

  • Catherine

    So, Jeff, you want us to fight for Stern – fan or not- because of principle yet YOU NEVER LISTENED TO SAVAGE SO YOU HAD NOTHING TO SAY!?????
    YOU SAID – “If you don’t defend Stern against the government chill, then you open the door for someone you like to be taken off the air.”
    Wow! I guess you are right! If ONLY YOU WERE THERE FOR SAVAGE! You only cared about so-called “free speech” (your definition) when it applies to JEFF JARVIS and look where it got you!
    I think if you look up hypocrite in the dictionary, you find Jeff Jarvis.

  • Anonymous

    MDP: Again, it IS relevant to equate the two. Yes, the government has the right to regulate boob reveals, but not political and religious commentary, no matter how hurtful. No crap, I know that. I know what government and Clear Channel has the right to do. I just wish they wouldn’t overuse their power to recreate a hypocritical, puritanical society. What Falwell says is much more damaging than my children seeing Ms. Jackson being tacky. I wish you and others agreed.

  • Mike

    above is mine

  • Paul L.

    Jarvis is right – this has everything to do w/ Bush. Howard Stern in one of the top two radio programs in the country – Clear Channel’s move has nothing to do with business. It has to do intimidation by congress and the government. This is what America has become under Bush – Today’s hearings in front of congress were scary – reminded me of the forced confessions of communist china and the soviet union – This is truly outrageous. Some people are offended by Stern? Fine. Just don’t listen to him. Afraid that your ten year old will see a boobie? In Europe you can’t turn on the TV without seeing boobies. has it made people more crude and less sophisticated? You can make a case that Europeans are a lot more grown up about sex than Americans and that their society is less crude and trashy in that respect. Perhaps its time Americans grow up. People like Janet Jackson wouldn’t feel the need to “shock” it we ddn’t make a big deal out of a tittie.

  • http://www.thebigdog.cjb.net Big Dog

    Janet Jackson lets someone rip open her clothes on national TV, Howard Stern lets vulgar crap out over the airwaves, and it’s our fault because we “make a big deal over a tittie?” What backwards planet have I landed on?

  • http://classicalvalues.com Eric Scheie

    Bless you for all of your words. I completely agree with everything you said, and I feel very strongly about this. I call it quasi-governmental censorship, and it’s been so long since I was in law school that I forgot all about the principle of the “chilling effect.” You reminded me. (Back to the drawing board….)
    Yeah, I admit my bias; I’ve been a daily Stern listener since 1994.

  • http://www.shanksvillememorial.com furious

    Yes, yes, Bush is after Howard Stern for the poll numbers.
    Makes perfect sense to target NYC’s top-rated shock jock after he used his show to support both Christie Whitman and Geo. Pataki in their respective gubernatorial campaigns.
    furious

  • http://www.learnedhand.com/scrutineer.htm MDP

    Jeff Jarvis: I never listened to or watched Savage and so I had nothing to say. Did that come as the result of government pressure and threats?
    Catherine: YOU SAID – “If you don’t defend Stern against the government chill, then you open the door for someone you like to be taken off the air.” Wow! I guess you are right! If ONLY YOU WERE THERE FOR SAVAGE! …. I think if you look up hypocrite in the dictionary, you find Jeff Jarvis.
    To be fair to Jeff, the “government pressure” distinction makes all the difference in the world. Now that I think about it, MSNBC fired Savaged simply because they didn’t want to be associated with his vicious comments, not because of anything the government did or implied it would do.
    There’s nothing hypocritical about opposing government censorship while tolerating (or even applauding) a media corporation’s wholly independent decision to fire an employee because it hates his material.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    MDP: right.

  • mirglip

    I’m torn on this.
    I’m not sure either side is being completely honest. Isn’t Jeff right when he says that what is happening is that the gov is chilling speech based on its content? Weren’t those Super Bowl hearings about what the government feels is and isn’t appropriate speech? I would ask some of you, how does the scientific facts that radiowaves cancel each other out (whatever really happens) and that therefore the government must grant/revoke exclusive licenses allow them to do so based on the appropriateness of the content of what they would broadcast? When the government decides who gets exclusive logging rights on a tract of public land, do they get to regulate the language the loggers may use while chopping? When you boil it all away, aren’t you just saying that you just have certain moral standards that you feel the government should enforce as to the content of “very public” speech? And is it really just to “protect the children” or is it because a society has and needs it’s moral taboos?
    To the other “anything goes” side, I would ask what is the principal you use to condemn the “Child Porn Cartoon Cable Channel.” A niche market for such surely exists. Why is it wrong, if not simply because it feels wrong and bothers me or that it may cause others to think bad thoughts? Can’t that be good enough or is everyting except “fire!” in a crowded theater permissible?

  • http://floyd.best.vwh.net/weblog/blogger.html Floyd McWilliams

    “For public broadcasting, however, only one station can use a television or radio frequency at a time. I cannot set up my own TV station in the Twin Cities and start broadcasting on channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, or 11 (or any in between) because my signal would interfere with the licensees already broadcasting in my area. The government keeps me off the air; the broadcast license is a necessary monopoly because of this. No amount of capital I could raise will allow me to broadcast my own programming on channel 4 here. That’s the difference. And since licenses are government monopolies, it’s not unreasonable for the government to regulate the content to make sure it serves the vast majority of the public.”
    So how is that different from … any other type of property? Is there some kind of property that people own that allows simultaneous use? The New York Times owns offices in Manhattan, and no amount of money will allow someone else to occupy those offices. Office space in Manhattan is quite a scarce resource. Would it be appropriate to regulate the activities of the Times “to make sure it serves the vast majority of the public”?

  • http://floyd.best.vwh.net/weblog/blogger.html Floyd McWilliams

    “If you delete the following comment, you are guilty of censoring the same content that is supposedly being censored by Clear Channel. Do you feel that this content has a right to be aired no matter where, no matter when?”
    If Mr. Jarvis could publish his blog only by permission of the government, and if a group of congressmen summoned him to Washington to testify about “indecency” on his blog and beat him up, and that caused him to delete your comments, then yes, there would be a censorship problem.

  • Old Grouch

    Floyd:
    So it’s alright to do the right thing, unless you’re doing it for the wrong reason, then it’s wrong…?!? (head spinning) :-)
    BTW, Jeff, re:

    “…Broadcast radio will die. Consolidation won’t kill it. Censorship will.”

    What’s killing broadcast radio is the 20-minutes-per-hour of commercials. (Loooove my car CD player!)

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    I will delete whatever I chose to delete and Floyd is quite right: Government didn’t make me do it so it’s not censorship (unlike what’s happening on the air). But you’d best fear the day when government does force it online. In the meantime, I will be simply dictatorial and kill that which displeases or offends me because this is my place and if you don’t like it, go to Blogspot and create your own space.

  • Khan

    See Tony Pierce? Who’s he? I’ve been in the print, television and film business (ahem…art) since 1970…who’s he? Somebody? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?
    So I surf over and what? Tony Pierce…it looks like a ten year olds vanity blog. F this, F that, F Bush mostly…well, entirely. Wow. What an expert. Geez, lean on him and you might crush him with your cufflinks. Lightweight doesn’t describe Pierce’s offerings or his vast experience…er, doing what?

  • Anonymous

    Howard Stern is a nuisance to today’s Society! I find it difficult that many people would defend him when his actions and treatment of others is so demeaning.

  • http://www.ranckandfile.com Clay Ranck

    Floyd-
    So by virtue of the fact that the airwaves are a public asset and therefore subject to public oversight, the gov’t. has no power to advise and work with those providing the content to define what is appropriate? If they can’t do that, what oversight do they have?

  • http://myblahg.blogspot.com Robert McClelland

    >Government didn’t make me do it so it’s not censorship
    Yes it is.

  • http://www.ranckandfile.com Clay Ranck

    Jeff-
    I have my own little (albeit dark) corner of the world. I link to you, and will proudly continue to do so. But I think you are wrong on this.
    The gov’t. is only in danger of bringing censorship to the Internet if they sign on with proposals for UN regulation of the Internet. I worry much more about the problems that good people in Iran are having and will have if their gov’t. is able to have even greater control over internet content.
    And the gov’t. does have the right to control to some extent what is being broadcast over the airwaves. While speech with valid literary, artistic, political or scientific content, no matter how controversial, has my full support when someone tries to assault it, I think that lewd sexual references and racial epithets don’t have a “right” to be broadcast on public airwaves.
    That’s why I agree that Howard should go to satellite…that way he can do what he wants, and then everyone can be happy.

  • mirglip

    “So by virtue of the fact that the airwaves are a public asset and therefore subject to public oversight, the gov’t. has no power to advise and work with those providing the content to define what is appropriate? If they can’t do that, what oversight do they have?”
    Clay, I know you asked Floyd, but let me offer this: How are the airwaves as a public asset relevantly different than a publicly owned auditorium. Do we believe that by the mere fact of public ownership the government may grant or deny access to those who seek to use the auditorium based on the content of what they may say there? Can the govenrment work with and define what is apporopiate to be said there. If not, what is it about the nature of a radio wave that would lead us to a different result? Isn’t it just that people who might not like what is said there are more likely to hear what they don’t like? Is that a good enough basis for gov. content regulation?

  • http://www.ranckandfile.com Clay Ranck

    It’s not a question of granting or denying access; if that were the problem it would mean that every American has a right to broadcast whatever, whenever, whereever, which is impossible based on the nature of the airwaves. So I think that broadcast over the air is somewhat of a special case, subject to greater scrutiny than private networks like cable, satellite, etc. And in answer to your hypothetical question, I do think that content which is being broadcast into your home is somewhat different from content which is sought out by its viewers in an auditorium. And besides, don’t school authorities and public officials decide what will be shown in the auditoriums?

  • Anonymous

    Clay,
    For what its worth, some public officials as regular course part of their duties do in fact restrict or allow access to public forums. Also for what it’s worth, (I just took the WA state Bar exam today (wish me luck), and still have the rule emblazened in my memory thanks to Bar/Bri)the applicable standard under the first amendment is: content neutral, be narrowly tailored to a compelling state interest and must leave alternate means of cummunication open. Each word has a special meaning but content neutral means is what it says.
    As for your response re: broadcast v. cable. What is it about the radio waves “exclusive use” nature that allows the governemnt to regulate the content of the speech carried on them? I’ll repose my example above. If the gov. allows exclusive logging rights to one logging company on a tract of public land, would the exclusive nature of that grant allow the gov. to control what is said by the loggers while they’re on the land? Why notok for land but ok for radio waves? (As a side question: May they also restrict what the loggers ultimately turn the wood into? Tables but not chairs?)
    Don’t you really think that the difference between the auditorium and th TV is that the TV is in my living room “dammit!” and I should have to have that filth here! I am actaully very sympathetic to that view. We are all scared witless by our destruction of public standards and decency. But if we want to stop the freefall, lets at least admit we’re trying to shut them up because what they say bothers us and it shouldn’t be broadcast publicly (even though we can turn it off) because the real damage is what does to the others who listen and those community standards. Again. belive it or not, I’m sympathetic.

  • http://floyd.best.vwh.net/weblog/blogger.html Floyd McWilliams

    “Floyd:
    So it’s alright to do the right thing, unless you’re doing it for the wrong reason, then it’s wrong…?!? (head spinning) :-)”
    That reminds me of an essay by Albert Jay Nock, “On Doing the Right Thing.” He said that if someone were to make a free choice not to engage in legal but detrimental activity — his example was avoiding drink — that was laudable. But what credit could be given to someone who did not drink where alcohol was prohibited? What moral choice could be involved, other than the desire to avoid a policeman’s club on one’s head?

  • http://floyd.best.vwh.net/weblog/blogger.html Floyd McWilliams

    “So by virtue of the fact that the airwaves are a public asset and therefore subject to public oversight, the gov’t. has no power to advise and work with those providing the content to define what is appropriate? If they can’t do that, what oversight do they have?”
    Hi Clay,
    I don’t accept your premise. Why must airwaves be a public asset? 930 AM in a particular geographic location can have an owner, just as I own (or rather, rent) “http://floyd.best.vwh.net”.

  • http://www.ranckandfile.com Clay Ranck

    I would say that when the government signs an “exclusive use” contract with a private entity related to public assets, they (the gov’t.) do have some right to define the terms of that use to ensure that it serves the general public interest. I don’t know that it would extend to the speech of the loggers, since that is not central to the nature of a logging contract, whereas in the case of a broadcast license, speech is central to the equation.
    BTW, since you have some legal expertise, I’m curious if what was said on Stern’s show constitutes legally “obscene speech” in this instance? would the Akdeniz three part test be the relevant standard?

  • http://www.ranckandfile.com Clay Ranck

    Floyd-
    I’m not saying they necessarily must be a public asset, I’m just saying that they are currently arranged in that manner. If the gov’t. were to develop a system where a private entity could microallocate spectrum to ordinary citizens and coordinate the functions of the system (like NetSol or ICANN), I would be all for a “de-reg” of the airwaves. As the industry is currently structured, I think it is beneficial to have some oversight of “standards and practices”.

  • Gary

    The airwaves are public places – get over it.

  • http://www.thecricketcage.com Syl

    “I will delete whatever I chose to delete and Floyd is quite right: Government didn’t make me do it so it’s not censorship (unlike what’s happening on the air).”
    Well, actually your deletion and the FCC ‘censorship’ are really the same. Yours is about private standards you set for yourself, the FCC’s is about public standards on public airwaves. The government IS the public (which is composed of all the private you’s) and has determined, through general feedback, the comfort level of the majority of the public.
    And, the irony is, the result was the same.

  • Anonymous

    Clay, here’s the problem though. The government can prohibit almost anything as not in the “general public interest.” Dangerous toys, speeding. But the content of speech? Sometimes, yes – “fire!” in a crowded theater is prohibited as not in the “general public interest” If the content of your scream is “banana!” the gov. doesn’t get upset. But can the gov. prohibit the content of speech on the grounds it is not in the “general public interest” merely because its is generally accepted as vulgar or offensive? If so, I would ask you what is it about such speech over the radio waves that is more harmful to the “public interest” than cable or satellite? Why the distinction. Is it just the thought that well, they’re giving it to you (the radio license), therefore they can tell you what you can and can’t do with it? Really? Even abridge the content of your speech?
    As for obscentity, just to be clear, I don’t think that’s the limit of the FCC’s power because of the “public airwaves”. “Obscene” speech is unprotected by the constituion (purient interst in sex, patently offense, no redeming value) but he FCC seems to be putting the chill on, based on a lower and entirely nebulous standard. From what I heard Stern say, that’s a lot of their beef. Who knows what the FCC considers sanctionable (ie illegal) content. They seems to tell them afterward.

  • http://www.ranckandfile.com Clay Ranck

    Here’s where I might draw my distinction. I don’t necessarily want the government to pass laws prohibiting such speech, I just want there to be sufficient outrage among public officials to reflect the public outrage over these kinds of events. It’s healthy for some officials to stand on the side of free speech in cases like this, preventing any real substantive action (excepting some raise in the fine for violations of standards, which might be reasonable), but at the same time allowing others to publicly address a few CEO’s and let them know that they still need to be careful about people’s moral sensibilities.
    Yet another example of what I see as a healthy gridlock…

  • http://brainster.blogspot.com Pat Curley

    Tough issue that you reduce to the Bush administration playing to the far-right fringe.
    Stern was fined many times during the Clinton Administration–were they playing to the far-right fringe?

  • AST

    I look at this from a public nuisance standpoint. It’s an old rule that activities, structures or conditions that are obnoxious can be enjoined. There are also towns in this country that tell their citizens what kind of colors they must paint their businesses, how big their signs may be and how they must landscape their properties.
    Why are they able to do this, yet the FCC has no right to regulate the stuff going out over public airways?

  • Anonymous

    Ah now it makes sense. Tony seems to think that America today looks like Germany from the 40s. Because the Soviet Army is in Maine, we have concentration camps slaughtering thousands of Jews throughout the northeast, Martial law where Tony can expect to be rounded up in 1 of these camps in the next week or so (if that hasn’t happened already) and railcars filled with people being lead to these camps throughout the country.
    Yeah, it sure looks like Germany 1940. That’s why Al Franken’s book has been removed from all the stores and burned en masse at huge party last fall, along with Michael Moore’s publications. The editors of The Nation and Motherjones have been rounded up and jailed, Eric Alterman is in hiding from Ashcroft and the Freeper Brownshirts, and there are no elections taking place in Fall 2004.
    Stern deserves what he’s getting- he wasn’t sympathetic to the Greaseman getting kicked off the air, he wasn’t sympathetic towards Michael Savage or Dr. Laura’s problems with protesters or losing their jobs over things they’ve said. He didn’t have any problems with stifling Opie and Anthony, and had no qualms with them being fired over their stunt in a church. And he didn’t have anything bad to say about Bubba the love Sponge’s recent firing either. And we’re supposed to be sympathetic towards Stern because he’s “spoken out against this adminstration” while other DJs who have not are simply ignored?

  • CleverNameHere

    Well, actually your deletion and the FCC ‘censorship’ are really the same. Yours is about private standards you set for yourself, the FCC’s is about public standards on public airwaves. The government IS the public (which is composed of all the private you’s) and has determined, through general feedback, the comfort level of the majority of the public.
    Excellent point by Syl. As long as we the people collectively own the airwaves, our actions to police content are indistinguishable from Mr. Jarvis’ deletion of posts.
    The unsigned post at 12:16 is correct that obscene speech is not protected, and that if Stern’s show was obscene, it could be shut down regardless of the type of media, satellite/cable/broadcast whatever. Two things. It’s really tough to actually show that something is “obscene”, so regulators are hesitant to base action on an obscenity foundation. And while “obscenity” is not constitutionally protected speech, neither is it constitutionally prohibited speech. So Stern could be obscene and we just not have a problem with it.
    But Stern being on the public airwaves gives the FCC another basis for regulation: It’s our airwaves, we can decide what goes on.

  • Johnathan Reale

    Yeah! WE decide! Wait, who is “we” again?
    This sucks. Jeff J., as much as I hate to say it, and although I think you’re correct, maybe this is not the time to mount a last stand defense. Folks have too much wrapped up in the notion of the broadcast spectrum being “public”, which can mean anything to anyone as argument demands. Yes, retreating will embolden the enemy, but they might not be willing to take their fight for content control to satellite. If they try to attack there, then it’s do-or-die time. But, thanks to technology, the broadcast spectrum isn’t worth it.
    What about it, people, do you agree that, should he create a show there, Stern should be allowed to say whatever he wants on satellite radio without government restriction?

  • Anonymous

    Syl wrote:
    “The government IS the public (which is composed of all the private you’s) and has determined, through general feedback, the comfort level of the majority of the public.”
    Reconcile that with Stern’s high ratings in the markets he was pulled and tell me how that applies in this case. Apparently plenty of people are comfortable with his radio show in Orlando and San Diego (or were). At what ratings point do community standards matter? Does he need to have 25% of the listeners? 50%? The FCC certainly never gives any guidance.
    And I thought that the First Amendment still applies to public airwaves, and that “majority of the public” is not the guiding light by which the government determines what can be broadcast. Or maybe I read my constitution wrong.

  • chitrader

    that was my post, sorry.

  • CleverNameHere

    chitrader
    Reconcile that with Stern’s high ratings in the markets he was pulled and tell me how that applies in this case. Apparently plenty of people are comfortable with his radio show in Orlando and San Diego (or were). At what ratings point do community standards matter? Does he need to have 25% of the listeners? 50%? The FCC certainly never gives any guidance.
    Ratings don’t equal democracy. Millions of people voted for Mondale, but he lost in a landslide. And this isn’t just a question of who wants to listen and who doesn’t. Some people don’t want it on because they’re afraid their children will be exposed to content they find harmful.
    And I thought that the First Amendment still applies to public airwaves, and that “majority of the public” is not the guiding light by which the government determines what can be broadcast. Or maybe I read my constitution wrong.
    The first amendment does apply. But if govt. cannot regulate who broadcasts what on the airwaves, the govt. cannot give exclusive licenses for particular frequencies. Then you have a situation where groups can broadcast on top of each other, and radio and broadcast TV is screwed. But since the public owns the airwaves, the public (through the govt.) gets to say what goes on.
    Again, it’s not a difficult concept. Jeff Jarvis owns this blog. He gets to decide what goes on it. The govt. own the airwaves, and can decide what goes on it.

  • chitrader

    “The first amendment does apply. But if govt. cannot regulate who broadcasts what on the airwaves, the govt. cannot give exclusive licenses for particular frequencies. Then you have a situation where groups can broadcast on top of each other, and radio and broadcast TV is screwed. But since the public owns the airwaves, the public (through the govt.) gets to say what goes on.”
    I agree, CNH, the FCC should regulate the frequencies and licenses of the airwaves so that there is no clutter and fewer problems with licenses (although they also kill low-power radio stations for non-profits, but that’s another argument for another day). But it should not regulate the CONTENT of those airwaives. That’s a first amendment issue, and that’s for the courts to decide, or the marketplace.

  • superfly

    It is censorship when a private company controls what its employees do. Its just not government censorship. Also our govenment censors many forms of speach like child pornography, assault, extortion, incitement, libel, slander, and the release of sensitive information like classified military documents and personal information like medical records along with some court proceedings. Almost no reasonable people complain about most of this censorship. Jonah Goldberg had a good piece about this a while back.

  • mirglip

    CNH: You note that since “the public owns the airwaves, the public (through the govt.) gets to say what goes on.” I don’t think public ownership should change the analysis of content regulation. Waht about content (vulgarity) restrictions on speech in public auditioriums? Can the government restrict the content of speech of what people say to each other inside cars on public roadways? What is the difference? Is it just because radios are “more public?” Why does that change the analysis?
    Someone earlier wrote that since the gov. is giving the ability for the speech (allocating of the radio license) that they get to control what the recipient gets to say on it afterwards. Sort of like some property right they retain control of after sale. If so, can the gov then tell welfare recipients that while they can buy magazines with the money, they can’t buy porn mags? Or that purchase of some audio CD’s are permitted, but not Howard stern CD’s? What is the difference?
    Either the gov is or isn’t allowed to restrtict the content of public speech based on it’s vulgarity or offensivenees. Licenses or radio waves or “public ownership” shouldn’t change that analysis.

  • http://www.billsaysthis.com BillSaysThis
  • CleverNameHere

    chitrader
    I agree, CNH, the FCC should regulate the frequencies and licenses of the airwaves so that there is no clutter and fewer problems with licenses (although they also kill low-power radio stations for non-profits, but that’s another argument for another day). But it should not regulate the CONTENT of those airwaives. That’s a first amendment issue, and that’s for the courts to decide, or the marketplace.
    I’m fine with you saying govt. SHOULDN’T regulate content. I just deny that the govt. CANNOT regulate content. We the people still own the airwaves. We can decide to regulate or not. So far, we have decided to regulate.
    I don’t think public ownership should change the analysis of content regulation. Waht about content (vulgarity) restrictions on speech in public auditioriums? Can the government restrict the content of speech of what people say to each other inside cars on public roadways? What is the difference? Is it just because radios are “more public?” Why does that change the analysis?
    The difference with public auditoriums is that the govt. doesn’t ensure a monopoly to one group. Public auditoriums are free for whoever gets there, but the airwaves are reserved for one station at one time for a considerable period.
    The difference with roadways is that there’s no reason to regulate there.
    Sort of like some property right they retain control of after sale.
    But the govt. isn’t selling the air. They’re renting it. And when you or I rent out, say, a car, we agree to certain restrictions in order to get the car for our use.
    If so, can the gov then tell welfare recipients that while they can buy magazines with the money, they can’t buy porn mags? Or that purchase of some audio CD’s are permitted, but not Howard stern CD’s? What is the difference?
    I think that’s perfectly fine. Just hard to implement. I don’t know that I’d be in favor, but I don’t think it would be unconst.

  • CleverNameHere

    part of my response was directed to mirglip’s post.

  • Anonymous

    CNH: “The difference with roadways is that there’s no reason to regulate them.” That’s begging the question isn’t it? I mean, isn’t the issue what’s the permissible “reason” the gov. can regulate what said on said on radio waves that logiacally wouldn’t also entend to them the right to control the content of what’s said on public highways?
    You also say “The diference with public auditoriums is that the govt. doesn’t ensure a monopoly to one group.” This, I believe, is incorrect. Allowing one group to use the auditorium necessarily gives them the monoploy to use such for the limited time they hold that license. Similarly, a radio wave license is an exclusive use monoply for a limited time. No difference on that basis. Furthermore there is nothing about the granting of an exclusive use license that should allow the govenment, on that basis (exclusivity of use) alone, to regulate the content of speech of what is said during the course of that exclusive license. I repeat, can the government, when it grants a logging company the exclusive right to cut on a public tract of land, regulate the content of what the lumberjacks say to each other while cutting the timber?
    Finally: “The govt isn’t selling the air, they’re renting it. And when you or I rent, a car, we agree to certain restrictions in order to get the car for our use.” I agree, but the logical underpinning to that is we do so in order to get the item back in the same condition as when we gave it. Logically, this wouldn’t apply to radio waves, as by thier nature, the content of what is said over them at an earlier time over them does nothing to impair their future existence. They are not an item like a car that can be dented or returned damaged. Futhermore, I would agree that if YOU rented out a car, YOU can set whatever terms you wish to renters with regard to the content of what they may say inside the car while it’s rented to them, but should the gov. have the same right over the content of what’s said inside the cars they rent out? Is the first amendment equally silent as to both situations?

  • mirglip

    By the way CNH, that me above (Mirglip). I keep forgetting to post my name to the comments.

  • Jon Husband

    Re: comment #2
    “Private companies making their own decisions on what they will tolerate from their employees–the horror”
    Private companies that have a license to use publicly-owned radio spectrum don’t have right to transgress the right to free speech