Find your balls, broadcasters

Find your balls, broadcasters

: I found a shocking fact in this week’s Mediaweek: “The last time a broadcaster refused to pay an indecency penalty sought by the Federal Communications Commission,” the magazine says, was in 1994.

That is to say that the last time a broadcaster had the balls to take the Federal Censorship Commission to court to fight for the First Amendment was a friggin’ (no, fucking) decade ago!

Why? Well, because the FCC holds the broadcasters by their shrunken balls. The FCC holds it in its power to not only fine them but revoke their licenses and shut down their businesses — as the FCC warned it would do in its Bono F-word decision.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely why 66 stations in this great nation refused to air Saving Private Ryan: They had been told by the FCC that airing the F word was illegal and could cost them their businesses.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is also why Viacom just castrated itself by paying a $3.5 million consent decree with the FCC that includes all kinds of onorous clauses and why the dickless Clear Channel settled its fines … and why every broadcaster has settled every fine for a damned decade.

Thus, the First Amendment never gets its day in court. Thus, the fined broadcasters — not to mention we, the people — never get the chance to test the constitutionality of what the FCC is doing to free speech in this nation.

MediaWeek (no direct link available, damn them) says that at long lost, broadcasters are getting ready to fight: Viacom did not settle the Janet Jackson case; NBC wants to argue the Bono F word; Fox will decide this week whether to fight its $1.2 million fine brought about by three prigs and prudes.

I fear it’s too little, way too late.

In those 10 years, the FCC has ramped up its war against free speech and Congress has joined in with its indecent indecency legislation.

It is time for broadcasters to fight back!

I met yesterday — on other matters — with some good people running TV stations in this country. They didn’t air Private Ryan for just the reason I said above. They’re pissed at the FCC. I felt like I was inciting a riota and throwing beer on them from the bleachers as I beseeched: Fight the FCC!

I told them about plans for an After The FCC conference that are actually moving ahead, thanks to David Isenberg’s brilliance, passion, and energy.

I said that they should be doing more than writing a few letters or appearing before a few legislators. They should be going public and defending our free speech on our airwaves.

But in all fairness, it’s not just the broadcasters who should be fighting.

Newspaper editorialists should have been defending the First Amendment when the FCC was going after Howard Stern. They didn’t. They waited until they went after Private Ryan.

We on the internet should be fighting the FCC — for they’ll come after us next.

There is still a chance. Only 22 members of the House had the balls to vote for free speech and against the indecent indecency bill. The rest sang soprano because they didn’t want to go home and be accused of voting for smut. Well, we need to give them cover. We need to pressure them to vote for free speech and the First Amendment and the Constitution and everything America holds holy.

So let’s hear it, TV and radio executives and personalities. Let’s hear it, editorialists. Let’s hear it, journalists. Let’s hear it, cable executives (they want to get you, too). Let’s hear it, satellite executives (they want to get you, too). Let’s hear it, internet executives. Let’s hear it, bloggers.

It’s time to fight back.

: UPDATE: Thanks to a commenter, here’s a link to the Mediaweek story, which is online.

  • JJB

    TVBarn has a direct link to the article you’re talking about (I think) at:
    http://www.mediaweek.com/mediaweek/headlines/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000727210

  • James C.

    Jeff, it’s great that David Isenberg’s brilliance is helping the anti-FCC movement, but could you do something about him being a raving Michael Moore moonbat? I mean calling Riverbend ‘the real deal’?!?

  • zt

    The FCC wouldn’t have such power over broadcasters if they had true ‘ownership’. That is, if broadcast spectrum was auctioned, instead of awarded. But the broadcasters wanted something valuable without having to pay for it, so now they have to live with their subservient position.

  • A post from my blog I thought was apropos (FWIW):
    “Learning From The National Rifle Association: Where I grew up, guns are used to kill people. There are no duck blinds in Brighton Beach. Guns scare the crap out of me. I’ll defend someone’s right to legally own and legally use one but they’re not part of my world.
    What I can admire, though, is the craftiness of the gun lobby. The National Rifle Association is unequaled in its ability to protect its agenda. The bedrock of their argument is a citizen’s constitutional right to bear arms. Of course, they’ve turned that into a one-size-fits-all excuse for gun violence but that’s another story.
    So, it occurred to me that in this time when our constitutional right to privacy and free speech are being threatened by the Patriot Act and the FCC (respectively), we might want to take a page out of the NRA’s playbook.
    What makes the NRA so successful? They mobilize voters and political contributors using fear – the fear of losing their constitutional right to sling a sawed-off over their shoulder. They throw lots of money behind pro-gun candidates, education programs and other kindred causes. They blanket the airwaves with spokespeople reinforcing their message. So despite the horrific gun deaths and public outcry for justice and gun control, they protect their turf.
    Why can’t people who value their privacy and free speech rights get religion? Where are the public relations campaigns against the Patriot Act? Why aren’t we making protection of free speech a litmus test for federal and state elected officials? How many privacy and free speech PACs are out there? Is it too naive to think that a threat against personal freedoms is enough to build a bridge, even a wobbly one, between conservatives, moderates and even a few lapsed liberals?
    One can hope.”

  • Thank you for being one of the few who realizes how dangerous all of this is, and for being one of the even fewer who are standing up and speaking out.

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Jeff, no one went after SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.
    That was a snarky deal by a group of broadcasters in the same spirit as a guy protesting the “No shirt, no shoes no service” policy of a store by showing up with a shirt and shoes but without pants.
    The FCC, like it or not, is tasked with policing the public airwaves for indecency.
    Now, there are differing “levels” of indecency. The Larry Flynt level will be different than the Mrs. Grundy level. Curently, the Jeff Jarvis level is not being met.
    Too bad.
    The evolution of society is still moving in the direction of “anything goes”.
    Eventually, we’ll have all seven of the forbidden words on prime time, along with great shots of Dennis Franz’s ass on NYPD Blue. It just isn’t going in that direction as fast as it was under Billy Jeff.

  • [tapping toes, drumming fingers]
    Still nothing. I repeat my “conspiratorial gasping.” This is nothing to do with free speech, and it’s everything to do with profit for you and yours. You won’t even engage in the debate…it’s all or nothing.

  • Eileen

    Right on, Scott. Been waiting here too, patiently and silently. Drumming, tapping, listening to more ‘religious nutjob’ comments.
    Not my business, but exactly how much DOES one make for showing up and speaking for a 12/32 minute spot on XYZ TV or radio show? What’s it worth?

  • Eileen

    ‘The evolution of society is still moving in the direction of “anything goes”‘
    Yes to you too, Mumblix. For that is actually Jeff’s ‘bottom line’ from all he has stated. Standards, morality, and the law be damned!
    If Jeff wishes to come down on me I am ready to cite the law, unless of course I get censored AGAIN on his free speech blog site.

  • sbw

    Jeff,
    Adding our voice to yours on the net and in the Rome (NY) Daily Sentinel in print:
    Free yourself from the FCC.