I’m behind reporting the results of the TV Watch survey about government censorship of broadcast media. Full disclosures: TV Watch is an organization funded by some of the networks to counteract the pernicious nannying of the so-called Parents Television Council and their ilk and I am a member (which means nothing much other than that my name appears there). Among their findings:
* “82 percent of voters prefer people exercising personal choice over what they watch on television. Only 12 percent prefer that the government regulate what is appropriate.” I have long believed that given the chance to answer this question — though media don’t bother since they’re just retyping PTC and FCC press releases trumpting a trumped-up outcry over indecency — most American would, of course, say they want control, not government.
* “While some people will always find something on TV that offends them, 87 percent of voters don’t think the interests of a few should dictate what everyone else gets to watch on TV. ” In other words, I’m a parent, but the so-called Parents Television council does not speak for me — except in the lazy reporting of media — and I’m an American and have a family but the nutty fringe American Famly Association sure as hell does not speak for me. Does Donald Wildmon speak for you? I hope not.
* “Nearly three out of four [73%] voters think that a single complaint shouldn’t be enough to make the government spend time investigating or fining a TV show that thousands of viewers enjoyed without complaining.” This is a bit of a red herring. If you don’t believe the government should be censoring our speech, then the numbers don’t matter. Under the law, they in fact do not matter; one complaint is enough to trigger an investigation and penalty (though the FCC won’t investigate without that one complaint). As many of you know, I found what was until the latest round the largest fine in FCC history was instigated by a mere three people who bothered to write letters and 20 more who hit the “send” button on the PTC site. The PTC complains about the numbers the FCC released to me via the FOIA but they can’t have it both ways. If hundreds or even thousands joined their lynch mob, millions still watched these shows and did not complain. Whose community standards is the FCC enforcing? Not mine. Not most Americans’.
* “More than three-fourths [76%] of voters say they would be upset if government regulation limited the programming choices available to them.” Well, that’s already happening!
* “The majority [64%] of voters agree that it’s futile for government to fine network programs when the same or similar programming available on cable, satellite or the Internet.” Another red herring, and a dangerous one. Various broadcasters have sought to bring cable under the same regulation just to “level the playing field.” That’s rather like blacks in ’60s America asking that Jews get lynched the same when, of course, the proper goal is to eliminate the lynching.
* “Two-thirds [66%] of voters believe that the government should not make subjective decisions about when the use of explicit language is necessary, whether in educational or artistic programming, as was the case when the FCC reviewed Saving Private Ryan and The Blues: Godfathers and Sons.” Damn straight. The FCC has now set itself up as our official national cultural critic.