Decency watchdogs go on Fox hunt


Both the Parents Television Council and Morality in Media think the FCC fine against Fox for pixilated programming on a 2003 reality program called "Married by America" is totally justified — if anything, according to PTC, the fine was paltry. Neither organization can believe that Fox is digging in and fighting the assessment.

"It is simply outrageous that Fox has chosen to fight its fine for clearly violating the indecency law," said PTC President Tim Winter. "The 91K FCC fine is already paltry for a rich network that profits for free from the publicly-owned airwaves. Fox is intent on claiming the so-called ‘right’ to barrage families with sexually graphic content and appears willing to do everything it can to dodge its public responsibility by refraining from airing indecent material before 10:00 p.m."

MIM’s Robert Peters added, "Despite their protestations, however, the problem is not that TV broadcasters can no longer discern community standards. The problem is that the networks no longer care about those standards. Nor is the problem that most Americans will no longer watch decent programming that uplifts or enriches the human spirit. The problem is that the media is dominated by individuals who have utter contempt for mainstream values and who confuse pushing the envelope with genuine creativity."

RBR/TVBR observation: The New York Time weighed in on indecency Sunday, 3/23/08, and although it was talking about the Supreme Court decision to hear the FCC’s appeal of its lower court loss on fleeting expletive enforcement, many of the same arguments apply. PTC, MIM and other watchdogs repeatedly claim they have a lock on exactly what America’s community values are, but as NYT points out, "…there is scant evidence that the public is up in arms about an occasional coarse word." NYT notes that the lower court found FCC’s argument to be "divorced from reality," and that it may be in violation of the First Amendment.

The evidence that PTC/MIM is overblowing public outrage over Fox is ample as well. Very few citizens bothered to complain about the material, and usually, most that complain only do so after one of these types of organizations ask them to.

Further, there is nothing in the regulations barring the use of pixilated film footage. We’re sorry, but if you’re going to hit us with a fine for breaking a law or rule, we’d at least like to see what law or rule it is we broke.