The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: BUST OPRAH: Want to have some fun? Go to the handy-dandy FCC-complaint page at the frightening Brent Bozell’s site and file a complaint against Oprah Winfrey for the indecent and patently offensive discussion of sex acts and excretory acts on her show Thursday — a discussion that was exactly like the discussion for which Howard Stern was also fined on Thursday. (Details below.)

Now, of course, I’m against fining Oprah just as I’m against fining Howard. But that’s just why we need to force the point: Force the FCC to consistently enforce its regulations and go after this self-righteous TV queen. And, for added bonus points of fun, use the tool of this particular nanny organization against itself, to demontrate the absurdity of all this.

The complaint page tells you the standards you must meet:

1. An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient (arousing lustful feelings) interest;

So make sure you say how Oprah show turned you on!

The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and

So quote from my post below.

The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Well, hell, it’s Oprah. Isn’t that obvious?

NO STRIPPERS AT THIS PARTY: The National Association of Broadcasters has called a “Summit on Responsible Programming” in Washington on March 31.

They’re keeping the press out “in order to encourage open and candid dialogue.”

Oh, please, I do hope that there’s a broadcasting blogger there to report on that “dialogue.”

Now it’s a fine thing to talk about what is responsible programming.

But in this case, they’re not inviting anyone who’s actually going to have a controversial view of that — and I don’t mean just dirty words, I mean open and provocative programming of any kind.

The speakers include FCC Chair Michael Powell and frightening Commissioner Michael Copps; the even more frightening head of the so-called Parents Television Council, Brent Bozell; the director of communications of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, Francis Maniscalco. Shall we ask the monsignor about how explicit we’re now allowed to get in discussing the crimes of kiddie-diddling priests? OK, I confess, that’s a cheap shot. But who’s to say that a Catholic priest should be deciding what I should watch and what’s responsible? Who’s to say that Howard Stern should not also be there to defend the virtues of free speech?

Now, of course, it’s a fine thing if broadcasters get together to talk about what they think is responsible. I’m all for that. But this is not being done in further response to the fear of government censorship via huge government fines. Hell, the government is there. So if they are going to have an “open and candid dialogue,” invite Stern. Invite me. Invite Ernie Miller. [Thanks, Beat Royalty]

: AND IT SPREADS: St. Petersburg, FL proposes banning “vulgar” speech at outdoor concerts.

One legal scholar said the proposal won’t survive a constitutional challenge.

“They can’t make any restrictions based on the content of speech,” said Bruce Howie, legal chair of the Pinellas branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

In response to a growing number of complaints, the city unveiled a proposal Thursday that would require promoters to pay a $10,000 bond for each performance held at a city park. If an artist uses profanity, a $500 fine would be deducted from the bond for each profane word.

If the violations exceed $10,000, the sound would be shut off and the promoter banned from holding another event for 18 months.

Give ’em an inch…

: FCC: FEDERAL COUNCIL OF CENSORS: Eric Boehlert at Salon writes that the FCC is taking on the role of government censor:

As for Stern, the commission’s decision to fine him for indecency will likely fuel speculation that the famous shock jock is being used by the FCC to make a larger point about indecency. Stern and his supporters can point to three facts in support of that case. First, the content of Stern’s show has not changed substantially over the last decade, during which time the commission never fined him. Yet suddenly, amid the controversy sparked by this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, he’s deemed to be indecent. Second, the fine the FCC levied yesterday was for a broadcast that aired nearly three years ago. If it was indecent in 2001, 2002 and 2003, then why did the FCC wait until 2004 to rule? And third, the raunchy material from Stern’s 2001 program that the FCC found to be out of bounds is almost mild compared to the other violations the FCC has been documenting.

It’s interesting to note that upon being named the FCC chairman by President Bush in 2001, Powell complained to reporters, “There’s a lot of garbage on television. There are a lot of things children shouldn’t see.” But he stressed, “I don’t know that I want the government as my nanny.”

What a difference three years make.

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