The Daily Stern: Afternoon edition

The Daily Stern: Afternoon edition

: THE CHILL REACHES NEWS: See the earlier post today about Fox fearing FCC fines for airing the funeral of a war hero because the F word aired.

Now see this. CBS is threatening to take news off the air because, hey, news is live and unscripted and what happens if somebody says a bad word (when you have no list of the bad words that could get you fined):

CBS affiliates are telling the Federal Communications Commission that unless it changes its ruling about profanities on-air, many will have to stop doing news outside of the 10 p.m.-6 a.m. safe harbor for indecent speech.

Noncommercial stations, meanwhile, argued that the decision has caused them to significantly self-censor for the first time….

“Live newsgathering outside of the safe harbor will be a risk that many licensees can’t take,” the affiliates wrote the Federal Communications Commission.

That dire warning came in comments to the FCC as CBS Affiliates and major public TV stations joined the swelling chorus of boos for the FCC’s decision that it may now find the F-word indecent regardless of context, and fine broadcasters and artists potentially millions of dollars for saying that and other profanities on air.

In its petition, the CBS affiliates warn that the indecency crackdown will “fundamentally alter the manner in which local broadcasters engage in newsgathering.” (Already some stations, though not necessarily CBS stations–are buying equipment to delay newscasts. And on Monday, some Phoenix stations reported pulled the plug on news coverage of football player Pat Tillman’s memorial service when friends let forth with some locker-room language.)

The CBS affiliates also argued that they frequently don’t have the ability to alter programming provided by the networks. Even if the networks indemnify them financially, that will be little consolation if they have their licenses revoked, as the FCC has threatened to do for repeat offenders.

In a separate filing, the American Association of Public Television Stations as a group and the major noncom program producing stations, also expressed their concern over the decision’s affect on news, documentaries and cultural programs. They say that, for the first time, producers are engaging in “significant self-censorship out of fear of government penalty.

For instance, stations have deleted language from “Prime Suspect” on Masterpiece Theater (and been criticized for the deletions by viewers) and even had to consider whether to edit our a nude lithograph from Antiques Roadshow, even though the show had aired months before with no complaint….

The chill is on.

: WHAT IT IS: Ernie Miller calls Michael Powell cynical.