Posts from March 23, 2005

Indecent

Indecent

: Lots of news on the indecent indecency front:

: ANOTHER INDECENT BILL… Sens. John D. Rockefeller (a Democrat… for shame) and Kay Bailey Hutchison introduced an indecent indecency bill that is even more constitutionally abhorrent than the House version.

They would extend FCC censorship to violence, not just indecency. How the hell they’re going to define violence is beyond me. So Saving Private Ryan can go on the air even with the F word but it has to go off again because it’s violent? And let’s get rid of the news, of course. Wave as you go down the slippery slope, senators: First, you want to censor indecency. Then profanity. Now violence. Warning: Political speech is not far behind.

And they would extend FCC censorship to cable and satellite. Warning: The internet is not far behind.

They also require full-screen, 30-second warnings every 30 minutes for any “violent and indecent programming… on broadcast, cable, and satellite programming [sic].” Since no one knows what violent and indecent programming is, the warning should just go up on every show.

They require more children’s programming. So they want children to watch more TV, eh?

And they raise fines up to $3 million per day with a provision that appears to allow the FCC to double fines if the violation was scripted or if it occurs on a show with a “viewing or listening audience … substantially larger than usual, such as a national or international championship sporting event or awards program…” Henceforth known as the Jackson Clause.

: IT’S THE CONSTITUTION, DUMMY… Even national nanny and FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein knows that this bill is unconstitutional:

“Right now it’s not in our rules to go after any material that’s broadcast over cable or satellite,” Adelstein said. If Congress were to make such a law, “it would likely be held unconstitutional in the courts. The courts have told us to be very careful about what we say is indecent and they recognize that weíre walking a tightrope between the First Amendment and the need to protect children from hearing this kind of thing.

“If itís a cable system, or a subscription service like satellite or cable, people are paying for it,” Adelstein continued. “Theyíre inviting it into their homes. And the basis for the broadcast restrictions is that itís pervasiveÖ But taking that into cable or satellite, the courts would probably look askance at.”

: CNN NOT FUCKED…. Just yesterday, the FCC turned down a complaint for a dropped F bomb on CNN during convention coverage because… well, duh, the FCC doesn’t censor cable… yet.

Here’s the Washington Post’s take.

: ON TIME… A few notes on Time’s cover story (not really online) on the indecency kerfluffle:

: THE SURVEY SAYS… A poll asks, “Should government ban it from TV?” Note that in no case does a majority say yes:

: Violence? 36 percent yes.

: Cursing and sexual language? 41 percent yes.

: Explicit sexual content, such as nudity? 41 percent yes.

: Drug and alcohol abuse? 33 percent yes.

Well bring on the naked, cursing, drunk ninja ladies!

: OK, then, how about that supposed national consensus of outrate over Janet Jackson’s breast? Asked whether they were offended by the incident, only 31 percent said yes. Well, then, were they offended by the Desperate Housewives promotion on Monday Night Football? Only 24 percent said yes.

Asked whether any of these things were “never suitable” — bare breasts; frontal nudity; bare buttocks; implied sex, no nudity; same-sex couple kissing; advertising for sexual potency drugs — none gained a majority.

: DISNEY IS EVIL… The story drew to my attention the fact that a Disney executive just broke ranks and favored FCC regulation of cable — because it’s preferable (for Disney… to hell with the Constitution and free speech) to the alternative suggestion that cable customers should be able to buy only the channels they want. Says Broacasting & Cable:

Of course, anytime you hear a media company volunteering for tighter government controls, it sets off the old Follow the Money alarm bells. As it happens, some lawmakers are suggesting an alternative to the content restrictions: forcing cable operators to allow ì‡ la carteî channel shopping so that parents can opt not to receive channels they donít want their kids to see. Mostly wholesome Disney doesnít have much to fear there. Ah, but ‡ la carte selection would also allow millions of subscribers who donít like sports but do like cutting expenses to dump ESPNóone of the priciest items on cableís prix fixe menu.

Disgusting Disney.

: DAMN, DAMN, DAMN… Time follows around an “analyst” from the so-called Parents Television Council, Kristine Looney [note my restraint], as she catalogues even uses of the word “damn” in a data base covering the naughty bits in 100,000 hours of TV. Naughty includes “every incident of sexual content, violence, profanity, disrepect for authority, and other negative content.”

Disrespect for authority is now indecent?

: I WISH THEY’D CLEAR OUT OF MY HOUSE… Time says that “almost single-handedly, the PTC has become a national clearinghouse for, an arbiter of, decency.”

Whoa! These bozos appoint themselves to that role and Time swallows it. Even to the FCC, the PTC is not the arbiter of decency; even the FCC turns down many of its prudish yelps.

: DAY IN COURT… A court test of indecency law and enforcement is long, long overdue. Time says that “industry sources tell Time” that broadcasters are considering a court test case. I thought that was already underway with Viacom’s refusal to pay the Janet Jackson tit tax and Fox’s decision to fight the record Married by America fine that led to my FOIA (quoted in Time). Maybe they have another case. Good. More = merrier.

“There are difficulties” that the FCC faces, a broadcast executive tells Time. “One is that extreme [regulatory] positions are going to run into constitutional problems. The second is inconsistent and vague rulings are going to run into contstitutional problems.”