FCC — and media — duped by Brent Bozell’s complaint factory

FCC — and media — duped by Brent Bozell’s complaint factory

: First I revealed that the FCC’s largest fine in history was based on only three original letters and now Mediaweek has a great story revealing that up to 99.9 percent of complaints to the FCC come straight from King Prig Brent Bozell‘s self-annointed Parents Television Council.

It’s shocking enough that the FCC has not revealed this on its own and it took a bloggers’ FOIA request to start to reveal the lie. To me, that indicates that the FCC was a knowing accomplice in this; they went along with Bozell’s shock troops because they wanted to.

But here’s the real shocker:

Now go back to every single news story that “reported” floods of outrage and complaint about everything from Janet Jackson’s breast to Howard Stern’s farts to Fox’s whipped cream and discount that by 99+ percent. And now tell me whether that’s a flood of outrage. And, more important, all you news commentators who pontificated about an upsurge of moral values and a shift to cultural conservatism in America, tell me whether you’re going to reexamine the conclusions you jumped to and correct yourselves.

As I said in my original post about the three letters to the FCC, this is like an old Foreign Legion movie in which three soldiers act like three hundred by putting helmets on sticks over the fort’s walls. Only stupid foes fall for that. The FCC and reporters are the stupid foes here.

Here’s what Todd Shields reports in Mediaweek:

In an appearance before Congress in February, when the controversy over Janet Jackson

  • Tim Windsor

    Good digging, Jeff.
    Now if only the MSM would stop referring to you as a former TV critic or former writer for People or former founder of EW and call you what you are currently:
    Blogger, journalist.

  • http://www.brianbaute.com Brian Baute

    But let’s not discount Bozell’s group completely. We’ve seen what happened to the Dems when they underestimated cultural conservatives too much. Most of the complaints coming from a “factory” devalues them to an extent, but as long as there are still legitimate individuals sending the complaints in (even if they’re boilerplate) they deserve their fair hearing. They’re living out Jarvis First Law: give them control and they’ll use it. A fair argument can be made that Bozell is just lowering the barrier to entry on FCC complaints (the labyrinthine process can be intimidating for some). And that opens up the process for those who historically haven’t had their voice heard. And that’s a good thing.
    (I’m being a bit hyperbolic here; I know this is a coordinated effort from Bozell and not just him responding to the grassroots who’ve been silenced in the past — but there is an element of that very present in this story, and it hasn’t been presented in this space.)

  • http://opinionpaper.blogspot.com Brett

    Brian has a point. Bozell makes complaining to the FCC easy.
    If the networks would make it easy to contact them directly (which they don’t) and we at least felt heard, no one would visit Bozell.
    Jeff, imagine what might happen if the networks were transparent about complaints and approached their viewers as partners in conversation, like you suggest the Big Media folks do with us readers.
    Gee – that a company might actualy listen to its customers/audience – what a concept.
    Rant and rave about Bozell all you like, but you only give him free marketing by doing so. And while he offers community for those who can’t find a voice otherwise in talking directly to the networks, he’ll thrive. He ain’t going away.

  • Jaybird

    It’s an advocacy group who have a large number of people who believe the group speaks for them.
    Discounting it because, well, the people who believe the group speaks for them aren’t incensed enough to write their own letters (or aren’t intelligent enough to write their own letters or educated enough or what have you) is a good way to be scratching your head when more scolds get elected to public office when “only three people complained!” about some television show or another.
    The PTC is a group that I very much dislike as they have tried to get shows that I enjoy every week taken off the air.
    But I don’t pretend that it’s just one guy and a couple of hangers-on with maybe a bunch of busybody evangelical housewives with not enough to do making these decisions (as comforting as such a thought is).
    This group, when created, was a grass-roots group. Its support comes from “the people”.
    You forget that (or ignore it) and you will see John Ashcrofts elected evermore and you won’t understand why.

  • aaron

    99% of the mail that comes into a Congressional office is from a letter factory. Does this mean only three people care about education, or homeland security, or health care?

  • Kevin

    Not necessarily, Aaron…but in all honesty, I’d give more credit to people who write their own letters of praise/disdain for a certain topic. It shows more personal involvement and passion for the subject at hand.
    It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to sign one’s name at the bottom of a petition…however, it takes a lot more to actually START that petition. If that made any sense…it’s still early for me. :)

  • http://sleazereport.com/wp John Hays

    Yes.

  • Michael

    That’s not how democracy works, Kevin. I see a movement I believe in, and I sign on. That’s my voice – my vote, so to speak. Why must I write my own manifesto for it to “count”?

  • http://opinionpaper.blogspot.com Brett

    For the purists who don’t think that copied letters and signed petitions show earnest, have you ever had to play taxi with multiple children? They call it ParentsTV for a reason. Parents want life made quick and simple. Show them where to sign and then they’re off to Girl Scouts and little league for the evening.
    C’mon… you can dillute the argument by suggesting that their “me too” opinion should be discounted, but in a democracy, someone drums up the idea and then the rest of us vote – like our presidential election, that very important event every four years, which doesn’t require a 1,000 word essay on why I’m voting for the candidate of my choice (although there’s an idea…)
    The “me too” votes count. Smarter, not harder – y’know?

  • http://sleazereport.com/wp John Hays

    This is in response to Aaron’s statement above. And this time I’m not going to accidently hit preview and post after I type one word.
    Staff personnel are usually the ones who handle letters and eamils. Most staff people are not stupid. They know when letters and emails are from factories. Most senators and congresspersons also know many of the genuine concerns of their constituents, and Bozell ain’t one of them.
    Also, to say Bush was elected because of the foolishness of Bozell and his mindless minions is to do injustice to the American voter. I don’t believe the average American voted for Bush so Bozell could censor everything, nor do I believe the average voter voted for Bush so there could be some sort of conservative revolution. I believe the average voter voted for Bush because they couldn’t figure out what Kerry stood for.
    The FTC has been conned. By the way, I have two teenage daughters (15 and 16) and the recent incidents of stupidity didn’t have much of an effect on them. They and their friends made a few jokes about the silliness of the uproar, including Janet Jackson’s foolishness, and then went on to discuss the political situation in Iraq We have a war going on and they were discussing the merits of joining the miltary versus going to college when they get old enough.
    It seems only the foolish adults attached to Bozells’s group are the ones concerned about silly stuff, and young adults and teenagers are addressing some of the cultural values that make America great. In case some people haven’t noticed, most of our military is made up of young men and women who are doing one hell of a job and they seem not to be overly concerned about the foolishness displayed by Janet Jackson or Howard Stern.

  • http://sleazereport.com/wp John Hays

    This is in response to Aaron’s statement above. And this time I’m not going to accidently hit preview and post after I type one word.
    Staff personnel are usually the ones who handle letters and eamils. Most staff people are not stupid. They know when letters and emails are from factories. Most senators and congresspersons also know many of the genuine concerns of their constituents, and Bozell ain’t one of them.
    Also, to say Bush was elected because of the foolishness of Bozell and his mindless minions is to do injustice to the American voter. I don’t believe the average American voted for Bush so Bozell could censor everything, nor do I believe the average voter voted for Bush so there could be some sort of conservative revolution. I believe the average voter voted for Bush because they couldn’t figure out what Kerry stood for.
    The FTC has been conned. By the way, I have two teenage daughters (15 and 16) and the recent incidents of stupidity didn’t have much of an effect on them. They and their friends made a few jokes about the silliness of the uproar, including Janet Jackson’s foolishness, and then went on to discuss the political situation in Iraq We have a war going on and they were discussing the merits of joining the miltary versus going to college when they get old enough.
    It seems only the foolish adults attached to Bozells’s group are the ones concerned about silly stuff, and young adults and teenagers are addressing some of the cultural values that make America great. In case some people haven’t noticed, most of our military is made up of young men and women who are doing one hell of a job and they seem not to be overly concerned about the foolishness displayed by Janet Jackson or Howard Stern.

  • Bill Henslee

    Personally, I enjoy a bit of smut, but I’m an adult and can pick and choose. However, I’ve been appalled by the indiscriminate broadcast of it over the public airwaves, both radio and TV.
    And the argument that one can change the channel is specious. There is no way to avoid it. No one could have foretold that Janice Jackson’s SuperBowl show would be as raunchy as it was nor could parents have forseen the recent Desperate Housewives ad prior to the Monday Night Football broadcast.
    The networks and local stations have ended the traditional ‘childrens’ hours’ blackout period for adult programming. Raunchy soap operas are on during the day and I’ve seen extremely “R” rated movies on Sunday afternoon network stations.
    The truth is that my grandchildren are being exposed to the seamier side of lifestyles every day without any way to shield them because the public networks are in competition with cable to produce ever more titillating fare for ratings.
    Whether the shows are popular with a segment of the viewing audience is not the question. The question is whether this is a good direction for our society.

  • http://www.thiskids.blogspot.com jackson

    Jeff,
    I went to their site (parentstv.org), and the very first thing, tghe biggest thing, you see is an icon that says ‘Send an FCC complaint’. So I did, or at least I tried, but I found out that I had to complain about a program, and not the FCC itself. Why don’t we plague them with an onslaught of our own? 2,500 complaints about Powell, his commision, his hygene?

  • Dishman

    Not his hygiene, that’s personal.
    Maybe its apparent statist agenda, regulating for the sake of regulating…

  • http://confederateyankee.blogspot.com Confederate Yankee

    FYI, The old foreign legion film was “Beau Geste.”

  • AEB

    I’d be interested in seeing how the FCC verifies that the complaints from PTC are legitimate and not just a few folks refreshing a page in a browser.
    Now more then ever, I think the FCC and some of the other gov’t institutions (IRS) need to be destroyed and recreated from scratch.

  • http://amomentwith.typepad.com/ Easycure

    I think dismantled, AEB, is a better word than destroyed. I’d hate for you to be labeled as a domestic terrorist! Yikes. But your sentiment is well taken, and you can add the Department of Education to that list.
    The point I really want to make is that parents should be good parents instead of being lazy and supporting fringe elements such as a Parents Television Council that dance all over the suppression of others First Amendment rights by flooding the government with (possibly disingenuous) complaints.

  • http://dougkenline.blogspot.com Doug Kenline

    Right on Jeff Jarvis.

  • http://www.parentstv.org Kimberly

    The fact is that 99.9% of the complaints were filed THROUGH the Parents Television Council website NOT by the Parents Television Council. Each complaint that is sent by someone who fills out the form and submits is from an individual which can be distinguished by Name, Mailing Address, and Email address.
    Many other organizations including our government use this same method. Every congressman has an online form now instead of an email address. Online activism is the new hot thing right now and it is the future. Moveon.org owes much of their success to online activism.
    So why do people come to the PTC’s website to file FCC complaints? Because we make it easier for them. We provide transcripts of the shows rather than making them write it all down while watching the show. The FCC used to make people actually send in a tape of the offending content which is ridiculous! Most of us aren’t expecting to be offended. If we were, we wouldn’t have turned it on in the first place.
    Why did the FCC require a tape of the broadcast? Because the networks don’t keep broadcast archives. That is where the Parents Television Council comes in. We record and archive all primetime TV broadcasts. When content on a show crosses the line of decency (we get calls, emails about it) we write out a transcript of the show that people can send to the FCC via email. When ANYONE makes a complaint, the FCC gets a tape of the broadcast for the PTC. ANYONE can use our form. Howard Stern fans who were angry about an episode of “Oprah” filed many FCC complaints through our website. HowardStern.com even linked to our site. It is a tool that we make available on our website. It is marketed just like any other online tool out there. I get many hits from surfers who found our form via google.
    The FCC now has an email address fccinfo@fcc.gov that you can send your complaint to. You just need:
    1. the date and time of the alleged broadcast;
    2. the call sign of the station involved; and
    3. information regarding the details of what was actually said (or depicted) during the alleged indecent, profane or obscene broadcast.
    The internet is great for activism because it is instant. Unless you are fuming mad you aren’t going to write out a transcript of the broadcast that offended you, find the call sign of the station, the date and time and then look up the mailing address of the FCC and drop it in the mail so you can file a complaint. All that isn’t worth it to most people. Reporting a crime shouldn’t have to be so difficult and it isn’t anymore due to the work of the PTC. It also used to be a pain to write your congressman, it isn’t anymore thanks to online forms.
    My agenda is to get the voice of the people heard. I don’t care if they agree with me or not. People file complaints through the form on shows I love all of the time. It should be easy for EVERYONE to be heard. People feel like they don’t have a voice, that they can’t change the world and I’m here to show them that they are wrong. I bet if you did a survey of people who actually know that they can file a complaint on a broadcast that offends them, you will find about 1 out of 10 people know that. I didn’t know before I started working here. My goal is to inform the other 9 that they can if they choose. All of the press coverage, good and bad, has served the public well. They are now informed and I bet we will get twice as many FCC complaints filed through our site next year.
    Not everyone is going to sit back and let 12-34 year olds decide what airs on TV. If you actually think changing the channel does anything think again. If you ignore the problem, it will only get worse and then it will become uncontrollable.
    - Kimberly
    “Just take a look at what Disney’s “The Incredibles” did its first weekend. In two days, it grossed $70 million, and yet a family can’t find a half-hour of programming in prime time they can watch together.” – Steve Farella, president and CEO of media agency Targetcast TCM speaking about the disconnect between media buyers and voters.

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

    Oh, Kimberly, I filed a complaint against the FCC’s “beloved” Oprah and the FCC’s beloved Private Ryan to force them to be consistent and I didn’t need a factory to do it; it’s quite easy. That’s the point: It’s so damned (oops, darned) easy that even your folks don’t bother; they just hit “send.”
    And the big question is: How many UNIQUE people actually hit send? Or does Brent sit there at night with a bottle of nice Cabernet hitting send-send-send-send at night?

  • Kim

    Kimberly,
    Would you answer a few questions for me? I went to your site and clicked on Latest Action Alert and it brought me to a form about “Life as we know it.” The form was a complete run down of the shows offensive material. If I fill in the necessary contact info and hit send I have just sent a complaint to the FCC for a show I’ve never seen or been offended by. In order to file a complaint with the FCC about offensive, obscene, or indecent material do I actually have to have seen the show or is that not a requirement? If the law requires me to have seen the show what safeguards does PTC put in place to make sure a person like myself can’t sign and send this form? I wondering, if by hitting send, whether I’m breaking the law.

  • Michael

    But Jeff, how is signing and submitting a form letter any different than a blog linking to someone else’s commentary? You create a 13-word link to someone else’s work as an easy way of saying you agree with their words. What is the different if I click “Send” on a letter written by someone else in order to say I agree with their words? If the amount of personal effort is the measure of worth, then many, many blogs become wholly irrelevant.
    ps: Do you plan to address Lex’s question in this post?

  • http://opinionpaper.blogspot.com Brett

    You know, for a guy who spent a great deal of time as a critic of TV, it doesn’t seem like you deal with criticism of TV very well.

  • John

    Commie-ass liberalism died the same way–its proponents got enough political power to start forcing their agenda down the throats of the masses, and the masses started voting for “the other guy.” It didn’t happen overnight, and neither will the de-throning of the Fumin’ Fundies. But just as the screeching Pinko Leftist doomed himself with his vitriol and inflexability, the screeching Jumpin’ Jesuser will do the same because of his need to force-feed his dubious Biblical interpretations to a populace that prefers to make up its own damn mind, thank you very much.
    Oh, and parents? If you don’t have time to properly raise your kids, you have too many. But that’s not my fault, so don’t make it my problem; go forth and multiply at your own risk…

  • bw

    FUCK OFF jesus freaks!!!!
    I can’t wait for this “3 letters” thing to come home to roost

  • http://www.tonypierce.com tony

    “Just take a look at what Disney’s ‘The Incredibles’ did its first weekend. In two days, it grossed $70 million, and yet a family can’t find a half-hour of programming in prime time they can watch together.”
    i’m with you baby, new line’s austin powers goldmember grossed $73 million in two days two years ago, and yet i cant find a half-hour of programming in prime time thats just as funny, sexy, or creative either.
    but i guess thats why it’s called the idiot box.
    and why movies cost $12 a ticket.
    maybe it’s also really hard to make something that even one demographic will enjoy – making something for multiple demographics is usually impossible – and therefore worthy of huge box office returns and praise.
    maybe it’s ok to have seperate stations for kids and adults.
    last time i checked kids have about 10 times more channels strickly devoted to them than i did growing up.
    meanwhile for the majority of us, the adults, i still cant see titties on tv, and i still cant hear adult language on tv.
    even though neither titties or language have ever been shown to damage anyone.
    if you want to raise your kids a certain sheltered way, be my guest, but once your little angels start infringing on my rights as an adult in a free market, then youve gone too far.
    enjoy the bush era while you have it.

  • http://tomgrey.motime.com Tom Grey – Liberty Dad

    [Jeff, I referred to you on a reply to MJT. Here slightly edited.]
    I think Jeff Jarvis has nearly pathological free-speech support for obscenity from Howard Stern. Lenny Bruce started it, but virtually all Leftist humorists include huge amounts of cursing. (Bill Cosby a significant exception; black but never Leftist)
    It is my view that human behavior and social norms are well modeled by actual driving habits. There is some “limit”, but almost everybody goes over the limit, a little. Yet most folks do support having a limit, because honestly unlimited, like German autobahns, is so frightening.
    So cops usually accept up to about 10 mph over the limit, and usually stop those going 15 mph over or more, if such are caught. And those doing only 5-10 over are usually a bit P.O.’d at the “real speeders” (despite NOT being innocent).
    I believe that obscenity acceptance has been a supportive influence on the increase in Hate Speech, because humans have a desire to occasionally express strong, stronger, and VERY strong language. (Do you have a different belief? Any evidence?)
    With all obscene words so accepted that they become “weak”, another way, hate speech, had to be found to express the strong feelings.
    I also used to think that expressing the strong feelings would relieve them. I now believe that such actions are only “feeding the wolf”.
    Legislation shouldn’t generally “forbid” such expression. But they should be recognized as bad, and advertising such shows should be more heavily taxed, as well as time restricted.
    Like most Liberals, Jeff, you miss what’s not mentioned. Children. The moral values/ culture war is a little bit about whether the culture is going to be optimized more for families with children, or for adults without children. It’s time to be more honest and admit that optimizing more for one is sub-optimal for the other. Social gay marriage acceptance (optimal for childless folk) is seen strongly as sub-optimal for families with children.

  • J. Peden

    Obviously the FCC is not the right place to go to sanction a questionable scene or show. Even its own standards make no sense: there is no “average viewer”; how would anyone know s/he is the average viewer? How would the FCC know? How would the average viewer know what “community standards” are without secretely watching many in the community as they watched TV? But again, there is no average viewer. If there is, then statistically there aren’t very many of them.
    Also the concept that the show “as a whole” could redeem it from censure by having some saving value – artistic, scientific, political etc., virtually guts the whole standard. What is/not artistic or political? Also, I seem to recall that the standards deal with purient interest in some strange way.
    No, the offended should go to the network or to the advertisers. Let them figure out if they are getting spammed.
    I was leaked off by the JJ breast baring because it was a crass attempt to extend the sex-sells tactic to all audiences, by increasing also the degree of sex involved, and to boost JJ’s sagging career, no other creative angle being imagined by these advertising girly-men and wonderwomen. And it was an affront to and belittling of the sensibilities of millions of viewers who the JJ crew knew were not expecting anything like that to occur while the Superbowl was on – the breast was thrown in their faces when they couldn’t have possibly known it was going to occur, indicating an intent on the part of the participants to stuff it down their throats in complete disregard of their right to choose not an abortion, not to see one on screen.
    If the networks feel the need to go to a certain level of offensive obscenity, and this is rewarded by viewership, there certainly should be enough viewers left to make a non-obscene network viable, such as actually occurred in the case of the Fox News network when it arose in response to the rationally and ethically obscene ABC-BS,NBCP-BS.

  • http://stribs.blogspot.com Robert S.

    Bravo Jeff! Excellent work – hope you’re the catalyst to this becoming a much, much bigger story.
    this is like an old Foreign Legion movie in which three soldiers act like three hundred by putting helmets on sticks over the fort’s walls
    That made me laugh out loud. Too bad it’s so true, though.

  • James C.

    Jeff, how do we get this story out?

  • catfish

    I can see why many parents are upset about much of what is broadcast on TV (which is why my family does not watch Television). These days, video, netflix, and free video rentals from the library make an excellent alternative to either broadcast TV or cable. Does anyone know if Bozwell’s group supports TIVO like technological solutions to this problem or are they only concerned with government backed censorship? Also, what ever happened to the V Chip concept? That seemed like an acceptable compromise between the desire to protect children and the concept of free speech.

  • Michael
  • http://opinionpaper.blogspot.com Brett

    Look, even the V-chip is irrelevant because it doesn’t capture the content in commercials or Superbowl halftime shows.
    Until the networks put like shows with like commercials/promos, it’s a moot point.
    Anyone seen David Brooks “natalist” article cited on Instapundit?

  • Johnny Jones

    When I hear things like this, I always FEEL like an idiot who believed the 300 helmets along the wall were real, and it’s a horrible and hideous feeling. So this is it – one crazed moralizer, one little prig-pig, one “factory” (I like that) churning out disgust and outrage. Jesus H. This simply MUST become a big story; there must be SOME justice in this rank and fetid world. There must be.
    But this answers so many questions. Like: Why is porn so popular in the red states? Why is Desperate Housewives huge in Salt Lake City? Ditto CSI? The answers are pretty clear – it’s because there aren’t really ANY red state/blue state divisions; it’s one big, dysfunctional but mostly happy American family, EXCEPT for those pindots among us who would dictate the morals of 200+ million. Exasperating. Exhilarating. Fucking typical.

  • http://www.godsowndrunk.blogspot.com Richard

    The FCC should not even exist, it’s unconstitutional (http://godsowndrunk.blogspot.com/2004/10/fcc-and-1st-amendment.html).
    The PTC organizationis insanely prudish, they actually count the ammount of times someone says a bad word in a show, they recomend movies and shows that are absolute mindless garbage simply because there is no swearing or sex. They are much more concerned with cursing and sex than they are with violence. From their review of Charmed- “Women witches and demons in the show often wear scant clothing, resulting in an unsettling mixture of sex and violence. It is not uncommon for Phoebe and Paige to wear tight-fitting tops that expose and emphasize their cleavage.” Not cleavage! The horror!
    They are also strangely obsesses with Nip/Tuck, a show on cable that airs at 10pm. They also support an expansion of the FCCs authority into cable television. They are hyterical prudes who are willing to use government to keep themselves from being offended. Last time I looked at the Constitution, there was no right to not be offended, but there is an iron-clad right to say whatever the hell you want.

  • Richard

    I apologize for the many typos.

  • john

    I think the one question everyone is missing is *why* are the prigs/prudes/whatever doing what they’re doing. I mean, the fact that they can complain and get the ear of the chairman of the FCC is a forgone conclusion. But what is motivating them? Is it laziness because they don’t want to properly parent their children (… Europeans don’t seem so hung up on the amount of sex and nudity on their TV… and they seem to be able to educate their children effectively about what is indecent and what isn’t) Is it because they, as Kimberly states, just want to give everyone a voice (and if so, why aren’t they really concerned about properly tabulating and categorizing complaints) Is there some deeper conspiracy going on?
    I was never one for conspiracy theories, but hidden agendas seem to be the norm these days. In a response to a different post, someone stated that this is probably going to result in a huge windfall of new donations to the PTC. So, I think this is really about the money. By stirring up fear, “activists” like the PTC are really generating profits.
    And we’re all participating in their profits by stirring this pot.

  • Mavis Beacon

    Great post. And I’m glad Kimberly from the Parent’s Television Council decided to reply. That’s good. I do think, however, that she misrepresented her website.
    Kimberly presents her website as a mere conduit, “My agenda is to get the voice of the people heard. I don’t care if they agree with me or not.” This is patently fasle. The website holds commentary, gives very subjective reviews (favors mother-as-homemakers, doesn’t approve of any predominantly black shows, etc.), and wants to expand membership. The PTV is a highly organized outfit designed to promote its own moral agenda. And it directs its readers to complain, complain, complain.
    Kimberly is right that the internet aides activists of all stripes. Certainly people are much more likely to write a little blurb on a website and hit send, than sit down and write a letter. That’s why the FCC has an obligation to distinguish between differnt kinds of complaints-just as our elected representatives do.
    Kim (not Kimberly) asks a great question: Have the people who are complaining seen the shows or are they relying on the word of the PTV?
    My gripe is this: While advocacy groups use the internet to organize and agitate, the FCC uses an outdated, pre-web criteria for determining the value of complaints.

  • http://www.parentstv.org Kimberly

    Jeff Jarvis: I filed a complaint against the FCC’s “beloved” Oprah and the FCC’s beloved Private Ryan to force them to be consistent and I didn’t need a factory to do it; it’s quite easy. That’s the point: It’s so damned (oops, darned) easy that even your folks don’t bother; they just hit “send.”
    The FCC judges content based on context. Most people can figure out the differece between gratuitous content that is meant to shock and educational/historical material. I don’t want the FCC to treat the content on Howard Stern which is done for shock value the same as sexual education on Oprah. Oprah isn’t a self-procalimed shock jock. I also don’t want the FCC fining PBS for airing war documentaries. Context is key and I’m glad the FCC doesn’t things as either black or white like you do Jeff.
    Also, just because it’s easy for you (Mr. pro web blogger man) doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. The majority of people who are offended don’t even know that they CAN file a complaint on broadcast content they find offensive. And if they do, they don’t feel like it would make a difference anyway.
    Jeff Jarvis asks: And the big question is: How many UNIQUE people actually hit send?
    Have you even tested out the form? How can you write about something you haven’t even used? The form requires you to put in your contact info. The FCC counts two people with the same info complaining about the same show as one. Our database purges duplicate entries Each unique person can be verified by mailing address which is why most of the Stern fan complaints won’t be verified – most of them were too chicken to input their REAL info not to mention that they also thought cussing in the form was real funny. Most people who are anti-PTC who write in aren’t constructive and are just downright hateful/closed-minded. That is why I come here – for intelligent debate.
    What the people who write in don’t know is that their emails only validate the concern we have about the effects of indecent broadcast content.
    - Kimberly
    “I think it’s partly the listeners’ fault. Our people are not used to writing letters of complaint, because in the countries they come from, they feel they don’t have a voice.” – Jerry Velasco of Nosotros, an advocacy group for Latino actors speaking about why Hispanics don’t lodge FCC broadcast indecency complaints against Spanish radio stations, LA Times, August 23, 2004.

  • http://www.parentstv.org Kimberly

    Mavis Beacon (the teaches typing lady?)said “The website holds commentary, gives very subjective reviews (favors mother-as-homemakers, doesn’t approve of any predominantly black shows, etc.), and wants to expand membership.”
    I take action on sites that hold commentary that I don’t agree with all of the time. Just because I go to a site does not mean I agree with all of the content on the site.
    The race, religion, political affiliation, their job (well unless they are a stripper) etc of the actors on a show have nothing to do with how we rate them but if you want examples of shows that we approve of that contain predominantly minority familes: Bernie Mac, The Tracy Morgan Show, Saving Grace, George Lopez, The Cosby Show, Family Matters… We rate the quantity of incidences of sex, violence, and profanity as well as the context and whether issues are dealt with responsibly.
    The fact that we want to expand our membership doesn’t make us biased against people who don’t have the same views. I have something in common with just about everyone. We all share common views. Yes, our primary audience is families and thus our website is designed for them but anyone can use our FCC form. It isn’t a “members only” tool. Lots of people use our site to see what happened on “Nip/Tuck” last week. More power to them. The information on my site is available to all who want to read it.
    The PTC records all primetime shows. If we find something offensive that aired, we report it. You don’t have to see a crime exactly when it happens in order to report it. If you have it on tape then you still have evidence of the crime. The networks don’t keep broadcast archives, the PTC provides tapes to the FCC. If a PTC website visitor reads the content from the show in transcript form and they find it to be indecent, they can file a complaint on the show.
    More information about filing FCC Complaints:
    http://www.fcc.gov/parents/content.html
    -Kimberly
    “I’m not sure black folks fully understand the power that media has in our life. We are becoming who they portray us as being. We’ve allowed ourselves to become a collection of negative statistics. Simon says dress like a gangster, and we do. I’m amazed by what I see on television or in the movies. I’m saying, either I overslept or someone stole my culture.” – Actor Tim Reid (“WKRP in Cincinnati”), quoted by the Associated Press on April 18, 2003

  • Patrick Meighan

    I’m sorry, apparently this is a much poo-poo’ed opinion, but here it is anyway: the say-so of someone who sends a letter (or, okay, an email) in their own words truly should hold primacy over the say-so of someone who cares about an issue only fervently enough to press “send” on someone else’s pre-written screed.
    Don’t tell me you’re busy. I’m busy too. Don’t tell me you’re a parent. I’m a parent too. If you truly feel victimized by a smut assault, you presumably should care enough to pick up the darned phone or write your own email in your own dang words.
    If the FCC is purporting to measure outrage, it should factor the depth of the public sentiment just as heavily as they factor the bredth.

  • h0mi

    This is patently fasle. The website holds commentary, gives very subjective reviews (favors mother-as-homemakers, doesn’t approve of any predominantly black shows, etc.),

    http://www.parentstv.org/PTC/publications/reports/top10bestandworst/main.asp
    I’m seeing Bernie Mac and Joan of Arcadia on this list.

  • Mavis Beacon

    With the speed of net conversations these days, I’m sure I’m just shouting into the void, but here goes:
    1. I used the prime time PTV guide. I missed the Bernie Mac Show (no. 10 on best family shows list). The rest I could not find listed.
    2. Kimberly writes, “So why do people come to the PTC’s website to file FCC complaints? Because we make it easier for them.” Yet entering “FCC and complaint” (or complain) into google doesn’t take you to the PTV website very quickly. Instead, an offended person would have to already be familiar with the website. So either the outpouring of anger was among PTV users who all saw the offending event and sent in complaints, or previously undisturbed citizens did an exhaustive search to find the “easier” PTV form. The third option is that PTV action alerts notified members and suggested they would have been offended and ought to complain to the FCC. This last option seems rather likely and it’s effectiveness indicates a problem with the FCC’s overly receptive stance to such complaints.
    Your members are not claiming to be, “witnesses to a crime,” they are claiming to be victims of a crime, and, yes, they do have to see it to report it!