Airwaves safe for f-bombs


What do Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm and L. Brent Bozell have in common? They all deal in fairy tales. The latest from Bozell is the contention that our courts are “…in favor of shattering every barrier of decency on television.” The Second Circuit ruling overturning FCC fines levied for fleeting expletives “…opens the door for F-bombs galore, any time, anywhere.” And the Third Circuit just did the same for fleeting nudity.

Bozell does have a point when he writes, “But in effect, what the judges were saying is that since the Enforcement Bureau of the FCC has been a steady, ongoing farce of decency protection for thirty years, it must always and forever remain a joke.”

RBR/TVBR observation: So there you have it. Go ahead, America. Turn on your favorite broadcast station and wallow in the filth! The dam has been burst, and the indecency should now be flowing like tapwater into the homes, businesses and automobiles of Americans everywhere. Bozell, the founder of the Parents Television Council has said it, so it must be true.

The reason FCC decency enforcement seems to be a joke is that program content is too subjective for bright line rules and regulations – it is inextricably mired in the gray zone, even after former FCC Chairman Michael Powell attempted to clear things up with an extensive set of guidelines. During that exercise, Powell clearly underscored the protection broadcasters have always enjoyed against fleeting and inadvertent indecencies. Then he himself began ignoring the fleeting exception after the Jackson incident, and the sudden policy shift is a major reason the FCC suffered the latest court reversals.

Most adults are looking at improving tools such as the v-chip and channel blocking technologies for MVPD subscribers as a reasonable course of action to help parents manage their children’s media intake. These tools to manage broadcast content are not being shattered. Apparently, if a technology cannot block every single slip-up, it is not good enough for Bozell.

In the meantime, filth lovers, you may wish to follow Bozell’s advice and tune in your local broadcast station for a steady diet of putrid material. You may also want to look for the shop of Rumplestiltskin so you can have your cache of straw spun into gold. But be prepared to be disappointed. Neither Bozell’s tale nor the Rumplestiltskin ditty have anything to do with reality.