View Full Version : FCC Crackdown Could Spread to Sattelite Radio & Cable TV

11-18-2004, 08:05 PM
FCC Crackdown Could Spread

By Randy Dotinga
02:00 AM Nov. 18, 2004 PT

With support from both Republicans and Democrats, the Federal Communications Commission is poised to get even more aggressive about enforcing moral values throughout broadcasting, even putting cable television in its cross hairs and taking aim at Howard Stern's right to talk dirty on satellite radio.

It looks like only the courts will stand in the way of the FCC now. But a funny thing could happen on the way to washing Eric Cartman's mouth out with soap: Conservative judges might just say no. After all, not too long ago the Supreme Court rejected efforts to censor the internet.

Today's the Day. "As soon as those regulations go forward, they'll get challenged legally, and I think they'll fail," predicted Adam Thierer, who studies the media at the libertarian Cato Institute think tank. "But I'm not 100 percent certain."

After rejecting 83 percent of indecency complaints received in 2002, the FCC burst out of its cocoon in January after singer Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" on national television. CBS eventually got socked with a $550,000 fine, and a slew of other radio and TV stations found themselves under fire. Even PBS began leaning heavily on the bleep button, and last week, several ABC stations refused to air an uncut broadcast of Saving Private Ryan for fear that the FCC would issue fines for indecency. ("War is heck," said one newspaper headline.)

Currently, the stakes are fairly low for major media companies. The top fine is $27,500 per incident, although stations can be fined separately. After Jackson's exposure at the Super Bowl, the House tried to raise the maximum fine to $500,000, but the move was part of a larger bill -- the Defense Authorization Act -- and it foundered.

The FCC guidelines remain vague, making it unclear exactly what is allowed. "The FCC has been trying to hide behind ambiguity, but that ambiguity has problems," said attorney Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project watchdog organization.

The FCC could spell out the rules: This word is allowed, this word isn't; this is when you can show a bare breast or butt. Indeed, the FCC reversed itself over U2 singer Bono's exclamation at the Golden Globe Awards show and declared that the F-word is verboten even when it's not used in a sexual context. But while clearer rules sound good in principle, Schwartzman said they're unlikely to pass constitutional muster. "The various pending appeals are going to force the FCC to clarify, but once clarified I'm not sure things will stick up in court."

Some critics say the FCC has a death wish. By cleaning up network TV, they'll only send viewers to cable. "As more people (move) away from broadcast television, the FCC loses control," said Richard Hanley, graduate program director at Quinnipiac University's school of communications. "If anything, the FCC is acting to kill broadcast television, and in the process kill any chance it has of regulating content. It's committing, in effect, suicide."

But the FCC bureaucracy may try to survive by expanding its jurisdiction to encompass the alternatives -- cable TV, satellite TV and radio, maybe even the internet. Earlier this year, a Senate committee barely rejected a plan by Louisiana Sen. John Breaux, a Democrat, to allow the FCC to oversee some cable programming.

11-18-2004, 08:29 PM
just showing that america is not the land of the free fucking dictator ship is where its headed

11-18-2004, 08:30 PM
It's definitely bullshit.

11-18-2004, 11:33 PM
The USA just keeps getting worse :(

Ecstasy Glass
11-19-2004, 12:20 AM
Pretty soon, we won't even be able to say fuck on these chat boards. What is this world coming to?

11-19-2004, 12:22 AM
Pretty soon you won't be able to think naughty thoughts. The Thought Police are watching!

11-19-2004, 12:23 AM
move to canada.
We don't ban swear words up here, we just don't use them on tv cause guys like mailman giggle when they hear them :P