Music video programming on two prominent basic cable services has drawn the ire of Parents Television Council. The indecency watchdog says that "sexual, violent, profane or obscene" material is presented about once every 38 seconds.
The good news for broadcasters is that they wound up looking likes white knights of decency in shiny armor compared these two channels, in PTC’s opinion. "What BET and MTV are offering to children on these three programs is full of offensive and vulgar content, the likes of which cannot yet be found on broadcast television," said PTC’s Tim Winter.
Winter continued, "BET and MTV are assaulting children with content that is full of sexually charged images, explicit language, portrayals of violence, drug use, drug sales and other illegal activity. Not only that, but we discovered that some offensive words aired only in muted form in December 2007, but as recent as March 2008, these same words were not muted."
PTC says very little of the programming used content descriptors which would instruct a V-Chip to block the programming.
The watchdog monitored programming on the channels in December, when it found about one objectionable incidents per minute, and again in March, when it tallied the one-every-38-seconds result.
RBR/TVBR observation: MVPD programming is by acquired by subscription; hence it comes into the home at the subscriber’s discretion and is not subject to the same indecency regulation as are broadcast outlets. That said, many have testified before Congress and elsewhere that to a child in a MVPD household, there is no difference between a broadcast outlet and a basic cable outlet — they are just two different stops on the remote.
Parents have the option of blocking these channels in their entirety. But if PTC is correct about the lack of adult programming descriptors, and we have no reason to believe they are not, then these two Viacom outlets are missing a major opportunity to promote free speech.
PTC is pushing very hard for a la carte programming options, precisely because of programming from these channels (with Comedy Central often mentioned as their evil triplet), and they have an ally in the big chair at the FCC just itching to make a la carte a reality. The argument against is that a la carte is an inefficient business model, and all of these channels are easily blocked.
So please, make sure that the ARE in fact easily blocked in as many ways as possible. Viacom, you owe it to the Constitution.
And by the way, we’ve been defending free speech here for some time, and will continue to do so. But we’d very much appreciate it if we can defend it over material with at least some small element of artistic or cultural merit. You will be doing us all a favor if you find something a few cuts above the gutter-minded garbage that often passes for entertainment these days.