From wardrobe to government malfunction


An editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune suggests its time for the FCC to move on from Janet Jackson’s fateful 9/16s of a second and start working on some of the real problems that are on its overcrowded plate.
Actually, the newspaper lets the Supreme Court off the hook both for remanding the Janet Jackson and the fleeting expletive cases back to lower courts (although we find those actions highly debatable).

Instead, the Star Trib says the FCC should be doing something better with its resources than pursuing these matters in the first place. The paper asks, “At what point does a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ become a government malfunction?”

The Star Trib says the malfunction rested with former chairs Michael Powell and Kevin Martin, who they say made this topic an obsession. It suggests that the only way most people really got to know about the Jackson incident in particular is by watching it repeated endlessly in slo-mo, not on television, but on the internet. It thinks the incident was too fleeting for most to catch it in real time.

It thinks the FCC should be concentrating on the internet and the damage it’s doing to print journalism, and it certainly should be focusing on the upcoming second attempt at the DTV transition. Star Trib concludes, “To be sure, the FCC still has a role in policing the public’s airwaves. But market mechanisms like Nielsen ratings and the resulting advertiser investment already are a strong deterrent from inappropriate content. Instead, the FCC should shift its priorities and work toward applying new thinking to the new media landscape.”

RBR/TVBR observation: Have you all noticed that thus far the FCC has avoided dealing with the 800-pound gorilla in the indecency wars – not fleeting or inadvertent incidents, but conscious, deliberate incidents which for one reason or another straddle or go over the line. This is where the gray areas will really come forward, and the indecipherability of the FCC’s guidelines will likely wither in the hot bright lights of an open trial.