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.