Watchdog decries Wheeler ambiguity on indecency


Watchdog3Anti pornography activist group Morality in Media was hoping for a stronger statement from FCC Chairman nominee Tom Wheeler when he met with the Senate Commerce Committee 6/18/13. Wheeler mentioned calling upon our “better angels” when dealing with indecency but otherwise was short on specifics.

MIM would prefer that the Senate put a hold on Wheeler’s candidacy until he comes up with some better answers.

Organization leader Patrick Trueman stated, “Leadership on TV decency is sorely needed. But, after a four year hiatus on decency enforcement at the FCC we can only hope that Wheeler’s better angels tell him to follow the will of the American public, and vigorously enforce the federal decency law, which he is free to do after the U. S. Supreme Court decision in FCC V. Fox of last June.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Here’s a news flash – Wheeler was short on specifics, period, regardless of topic. That was by design, and it follow the pattern we have seen for every single commissioner who we’ve seen interviewed by the Committee.

It was to be expected in particular on this issue. The Supreme Court, far from saying the FCC is free to enforce indecency as it sees fit, essentially sent it back to the drawing board. It did not make any specific suggestions, but ordered to make sure that stakeholders and the public are participants in the process, unlike the unilateral change in fleeting expletive enforcement inserted by former Chairman Michael Powell. And it said the rules need to be clear enough that broadcasters have half a chance of following them.

That has led to a proceeding on the matter. With the record open, there is little in the way of meaningful comment that Wheeler could have made.

We do know this, however – the proceeding is not intended to bring foul language and nudity onto broadcast television during primetime, which is what MIM has been contending.


  1. For an idiot like Trueman(or that other idiot, PTC head Tim Winter) to suggest that FCC enforcement of “indecency” is the “will of the American people”, it’s asinine for him to think his group represents that so-called will, considering that there are over 300 million people living in the USA and the total number of members in his group would only cover .1% of the US population, if that.

    Just because one person finds something “offensive” doesn’t mean everybody finds it “offensive”(though it is offensive that 3 out of 5 unelected people in Washington can judge something “indecent” after the program in question airs).

    This is essentially the FCC’s last chance. The Supreme Court overturned the “fleeting” rules on due process grounds(FCC didn’t tell broadcasters ahead of time of rule change to “fleeting”) while not answering the questions of the constitutionality of the “indecency” rules……….yet. If the FCC ultimately decides to keep the rules as is, the FCC runs the risk of losing their “indecency” enforcement rules for good. The broadcast networks made it clear in their filings that they’re prepared to go back to SCOTUS to get Pacifica reversed if the FCC doesn’t change the rules to make those rules clearer as to what’s allowed and what’s not.

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