Parents Television Council hired Zogby International to ask a pair of questions about indecency. The resulting survey says that about 75% of those surveyed agree that there is “too much sex, violence and coarse language on television.” However, only 39% strongly agreed, and only 56.5% think the FCC should enforce indecency rules.
PTC’s Tim Winter said, “The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals seems intent on obliterating the FCC’s ability to enforce the broadcast decency law. Unless the Obama Administration acts before the April 21 deadline, a three-judge panel in New York City will succeed in nullifying the will of the American people, the intent of the U.S. Congress and several decades of Supreme Court precedent.”
“If that happens, broadcasters will be given the green light to distribute all manner of indecent content – from f-words to graphic sex – over the publicly-owned airwaves at any time of day, even in front of children. That prospect can’t sit well with the vast majority of Americans who agree there is already too much sex, violence and profanity on television.”
The first question in the two-parter was “Do you agree or disagree that there is too much sex, violence and coarse language on television?” 39.1% strongly agreed, 35.5% somewhat agreed (comprising PTC’s 75% mash-up), 15.2% somewhat disagreed and 27.1% strongly disagreed.
The second question was “Congress instructed the FCC to fine radio and TV broadcasters if they air indecent material during times when children are likely to be in the audience. The broadcasters are suing the FCC to overturn this rule. Do you agree or disagree that the FCC should keep its legal authority to fine broadcasters if they air indecent material during times when children are likely to be in the audience?” 56.55% agreed, 34.78% disagreed and 8.67% weren’t sure.
TV Watch, a group that counters those such as PTC, responded. Jim Dyke said, “Whether it is for fundraising purposes or empowering government over parents, the PTC continues to present parents with a false choice. They have a survey, and so do we. What is clear from a comprehensive survey of parents across the nation is that most believe decisions about TV viewing should be made at home, not in Washington, DC.”
Dyke cited data from polling done by Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research & Hart Research, which found that 83% of parents are satisfied with the effectiveness of the V-Chip and other blocking tools; 87% believe they do a better job of protecting children from violent and offensive content; and 91% say they personally take some steps to manage what their children see on TV.
Commenting on the PTC poll, Dyke concluded, “This survey represents the latest grasping of straws by the PTC after a series of inconsistencies and losses that have hurt their credibility.”
RBR-TVBR observation: The fact that barely over half of those surveyed thought the FCC should have tyrannosaurus teeth is amazing, given the histrionic and false nature of the question’s phrasing. PTC made it look as though broadcasters were trying to go into direct competition with Larry Flynt, which is laughable.
First of all, Winter is basically saying that the honorable justices of the federal judiciary are in business to inflict harm on children while undermining truth, justice and the American way. We’re sure that’s it – they rose to their high position in the judiciary system due to their hatred of all things PTC holds dear.
Secondly, broadcasters did not go into this seeking to undo indecency regulation. They went into this seeking to undo harsh penalties for fleeting, accidental moments of indecency. These are not scripted moments that broadcasters are intentionally inflicting on their audiences – they are unpredictable, and over quickly unless somebody insists on dwelling on them for months and years on end. And there is no evidence of any sort that anybody of any age has been harmed by a fleeting expletive.
Finally there is Winter’s assertion that broadcasters are licking their chops at being able have an anything-goes broadcast programming environment, any time of the day.
If that were true, we’d know it. At precisely 10:00 PM, when safe harbor kicks in, so would the racy anything-goes programming Winter fears. There’s nothing stopping it, right? Totally legal, right?
But broadcasters do not program that type of material, at any time of the day or night. PTC is relying on distortion and fantasy to make its case, but it just doesn’t hold water.